Overall, calendar second-quarter earnings have been strong, with most major companies reporting better-than-expected results. Among them, electric car maker Tesla reported a smaller-than-expected loss Wednesday, sending the stock surging as much as 6 percent in premarket trade.
Allergan, Global Payments, and Kellogg also posted quarterly results before the bell Thursday. Heinz, Motorola Solutions, Viacom and Western Union will report after the bell.
Wall Street also set its sights on U.S. economic data. U.S. jobless claims totaled 240,000 versus expectations of 242,000 accord to the Labor Department’s Thursday report.
Looking ahead to Friday, investors may be taking a break ahead of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ its monthly employment report. Analysts expect the U.S. economy will have added 185,000 jobs in July.
“We’re all anxious to see the jobs number because it’s directly tied to what the [Federal Reserve] is going to do,” said Jim Davis, regional investment manager for The Private Client Group of U.S. Bank.
The Fed has hinted it wants to start unwinding its massive $4.5 trillion portfolio before year’s end as it normalizes monetary policy.
Meanwhile, the IHS Markit Services PMI Index hit 54.7 in July, slightly higher than in June. But the ISM nonmanufacturing index showed growth in the services sector slowed last month.
U.S. equities markets have been on a tear this year, notching record highs across the board. But Mark Newton, managing member at Newton Advisors, points out that the S&P has been in a tight range since late July.
“Overall, it’s still a very range-bound and choppy US Market as recent gains seem to have stalled out once again,” said Mark Newton, managing member at Newton Advisors. There’s “no end to this choppy range in sight just yet.”
Newton also notes that the S&P will have to break below 2,457 or above 2,480 to get out of its tight range.