On Thursday, the US stock market started trading mixed after a strong outlook from Walmart, Reuters reported.
As of 10:21 AM ET (1421 GMT), the Dow Jones was down 0.1%, or 18 points, while the S&P 500 was up 0.3% and the NASDAQ Composite was up 0.7% .
Shares of Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) rose 2.4% after the US's largest retailer announced an 8% increase in first-quarter sales. The increase in sales was driven by the demand for food, which offset the decline in sales of discretionary goods such as electronics and clothing. The company also raised its guidance for the full year.
Shares of Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO) remained unchanged after the network equipment maker reported a decline in orders. This could be a harbinger of cutting spending on process equipment as companies brace for tougher economic conditions.
The big economic news is that new jobless claims came in at 242,000, below expectations. This is another sign of tension in the labor market.
About two-thirds of futures traders expect the Federal Reserve (Fed) to put a hold on interest rate hikes at its June meeting as officials evaluate their effectiveness in fighting inflation. Despite the slowdown in price growth in recent weeks, volatility in the labor market may complicate forecasting for the Fed.
However, not all economists agree with the pause in raising interest rates. The head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Laurie Logan, said that economic data does not support the need for a pause. She noted that while in the coming weeks the data may indicate the possibility of skipping the meeting, they are not ready for this step at the moment.
Another important factor is the national debt ceiling, which Congress must raise or suspend in the next couple of weeks to avoid a US default. Despite statements from lawmakers and President Joe Biden that a default is not possible, the issue is still being debated as the early June deadline approaches.
President Biden is in Japan for a meeting of G7 world leaders, where the debt ceiling, as well as relations with China and Russia, are one of the main topics of discussion.
Oil prices also fell. WTI futures fell 0.6% to $72.38 a barrel, while Brent futures fell 0.8% to $76.30 a barrel. The gold futures price fell 1.1% to $1.963.