The US markets closed mostly higher on Thursday, with the Dow industrials notching a 10th straight record in a choppy session amid persistent concerns about lofty valuations and uncertainty about President Donald Trump’s fiscal stimulus plans. Outgoing Atlanta Federal Reserve president Dennis Lockhart put a plug in for looser bank regulations, saying debate over ways to change the Dodd-Frank financial reform laws were appropriate given the economy’s strength and what he regards as improved bank management. The regulatory pendulum, he said, had likely swung too far in the aftermath of the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis. Community and regional banks in particular should be treated with a lighter touch based on each institution’s risk profile rather than one-size-fits-all rules.
On the economy front, the number of US workers who applied for unemployment benefits in late February rose slightly to 244,000, but layoffs remained near ultralow levels last seen in the early 1970s. Initially claims climbed by 6,000 in the seven days ended February 18 from a revised 238,000 in the prior week. The less volatile four-week average of initial claims, however, dropped by 4,000 to 241,000, touching the lowest mark since July 1973. The monthly average smooths out the volatility in the weekly report. Continuing jobless claims, meanwhile, fell by 17,000 to 2.06 million in the week ended February 11.
Meanwhile, economic activity across the United States weakened in January, signaling softer momentum for the world’s largest economy at the start of 2017. The Chicago Fed National Activity Index decreased to -0.05 in January from a revised +0.18 in December. The contribution from production-related indicators declined in January, as did measures of personal consumption. Employment-related indicators strengthened, while sales, orders and inventories also made a positive contribution.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 34.72 points or 0.17 percent to 20,810.32, S&P 500 gained 0.99 points or 0.04 percent to 2,363.81, while the Nasdaq was down 25.12 points or 0.43 percent to 5,835.51.
The Indian ADRs closed mixed; Infosys was up 0.15%, Wipro was up 0.14% and ICICI Bank was up 0.09%. On the other hand, Dr. Reddy’s Lab was down 0.19% and Tata Motors was down 0.14%.