Stocks Mixed At Open As Investors Eye Musk, Twitter Drama

Musk offered to buy the social media company for $54.20 a share, two weeks after revealing he'd accumulated a 9% stake. Twitter rose 2.2% to $46.87 in early trading.
Stocks Mixed At Open As Investors Eye Musk, Twitter Drama

Stocks are mixed at the open on Wall Street Thursday as investors again turn their attention to the drama surrounding Elon Musk and Twitter. 

Musk offered to buy the social media company for $54.20 a share, two weeks after revealing he'd accumulated a 9% stake. Twitter rose 2.2% to $46.87 in early trading. 

The S&P 500 rose less than 0.1% while the Nasdaq fell 0.4%. The Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.5% in March, boosted by higher prices for gasoline, as consumers continue to spend despite high inflation. 

The price of oil fell more than 1%. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.74% from 2.72%. 

World shares were mostly higher Thursday after China indicated its central bank will ease reserve requirements for lenders to counter the blow to its economy from pandemic shutdowns in big cities like Shanghai. 

London slipped while Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Shanghai gained. U.S. futures were mixed and oil prices fell.

Trading was relatively quiet with some Asian markets closed for holidays. Markets in the U.S. and Europe face a shortened week and will be closed on Friday for Good Friday holidays.

Chinese state media reported that Premier Li Keqiang emphasized the need to step up financial support for the economy at a State Council meeting on Wednesday. 

Officials at the meeting agreed to “use monetary policy tools like reserve requirement ratio cuts at an appropriate time" the official Xinhua News Agency reported. 

“The outlook remains highly uncertain but there are signs that the virus situation is starting to improve and that the focus of officials is shifting toward helping the economy get back on its feet," Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a note. 

Germany's DAX edged 0.1% higher to 14,090.92 while the CAC 40 in Paris added 0.5% to 6,572.30. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.1% to 7,576.54. 

The future for the Dow industrials was nearly unchanged, while that for the S&P 500 was 0.1% higher. 

Investors have appeared to brush aside fresh evidence that  inflation remains widespread in the U.S. economy according to a U.S. government report that rising energy costs pushed wholesale prices up a record 11.2% last month from a year earlier.

That report followed news a day earlier that U.S. consumer prices remain at their highest levels in generations.

Rising prices are driving the Federal Reserve and many other central banks to tighten monetary policy by raising interest rates, among other measures, to help cool the surging demand that is contributing to the problem. 

South Korea's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 percentage points to 1.50% on Thursday, its fourth increase since August 2021. The Kospi in Seoul was flat at 2,716.71.

Shares in Singapore also were flat after the Singapore Monetary Authority tightened its policy by adjusting currency exchange rates in a more aggressive move than had been expected. 

New Zealand's central bank raised its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday and Australia's is expected to do so in June, analysts said.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index gained 1.2% to 27,172.00 and the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney climbed 0.6% to 7,523.40. 

Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7% to 21,518.08 and the Shanghai Composite index advanced 1.2% to 3,225.64.

On Wednesday, the S&P 500 index rose 1.1%. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1% and the Nasdaq picked up 2%. The Russell 2000 index surged 1.9%. 

Inflation may be peaking but will likely stick around for awhile as cost pressures filter their way through the markets. 

Russia's invasion of Ukraine  has raised volatility for energy prices since oil supplies already were tight as demand rises with the waning of the pandemic. 

U.S. crude oil prices are up roughly 40% for the year, driving up gasoline prices and giving inflation's a bigger hit on people's wallets.

“On the geopolitical front, the Ukraine crisis continues to weigh on sentiment, with markets watching for any signs of further deterioration," Anderson Alves of ActivTrades said in a commentary. 

Companies in various industries have been raising prices to offset rising costs and maintain or increase their margins.

Investors will get more details on how companies and consumers are dealing with inflation as more companies report their latest financial results. 

Insurer UnitedHealth Group and banks Wells Fargo and Citigroup are due to report their earnings on Thursday.

Also Thursday, the Commerce Department will release its retail sales report for March, which will show whether and where consumers are pulling back on spending.

In energy trading U.S. benchmark crude oil slipped $1.28 to $102.97 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. 

It jumped $3.65 to $104.25 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the standard for pricing international oils, lost $1.55 cents to $107.23 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar slipped to 125.26 Japanese yen from 125.63 yen. The euro rose to $1.0906 from $1.0888.

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