Thursday October 24th


Stock futures edge higher after strong Microsoft earnings

U.S. stock index futures traded slightly higher on Thursday after the release of better-than-expected earnings from tech giant Microsoft. Around 7:25 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures indicated a gain of more than 45 points at the open. S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 also pointed to slight gains. Microsoft reported earnings per share of $1.38 on revenue of $33.06 billion for the previous quarter. Analysts polled by Refinitiv expected a profit of $1.25 per share on revenue of $32.23 billion. Microsoft’s strong quarterly performance was driven in part by Azure, its cloud business, which saw revenues grow by 59% on a year-over-year basis. The stock rose about 1% in the premarket. “MSFT delivered strength across the board with no blemishes and importantly gave stronger than expected December quarter guidance which speaks to an inflection point in deal flow as more enterprises pick Redmond for the cloud,” Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in a note.  Tesla shares spiked more than 18% after the electric car maker posted a surprise quarterly profit. The company also told investors its new Shanghai factor is “ready for production.” NBCUniversal-parent Comcast, Dow Inc. and PayPal also traded higher on earnings that beat analyst expectations. Twitter, however, plunged about 20% after posting disappointing earnings. More than 31% of S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly earnings thus far, with nearly 80% of them posting results that beat analyst estimates, according to FactSet. Amazon, Intel and Visa are among the companies scheduled to report after the bell as investors slog through the busiest day of the earnings season. Asia Pacific shares mostly rose in the afternoon, as latest figures showed that South Korea’s economy continued to slow. Investors, meanwhile, look ahead to the European Central Bank meeting on Thursday. Mainland Chinese markets moved to a subdued finish. The Shanghai composite closed flat to 2,940.92, while the Shenzhen composite declined 0.21% to 1,615.96. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index bucked the trend, jumping 0.77% in its final hour of trade. Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 0.55% to 22,750.60. In South Korea, the Kospi edged up 0.24% to close at 2,085.66. Oil steadied around $61 a barrel on Thursday as concern over the demand outlook offset a surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories and the prospect of further action by OPEC and its allies to support the market. In the latest sign of economic weakness that has prompted lower oil demand projections, employment in Germany’s private sector fell fell for the first time in six years in October, a survey showed on Thursday. Brent crude futures lost 8 cents, dropping to $61.09 per barrel, having risen 2.5% on Wednesday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 13 cents to $55.84. Gold inched down on Thursday as investors awaited clarity on Brexit after the European Union delayed a decision on granting Britain an extension, while a weaker dollar provided a floor under prices. Spot gold fell 0.2% to $1,488.58 per ounce as of 0725 GMT. U.S. gold futures lost 0.3% at $1,491.30 per ounce.