The stock markets in the United States declined except the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), up by 0.07% today. Data showed that housing market improved in April, which shifted investors’ speculation towards a potential interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.

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The Department of Commerce reported that the housing starts in the country increased 20.2% to a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.135 million in April—the highest growth since 1991. According to the agency, the new applications for building permits climbed 10.1%.

In a note to investors, JP Morgan Chase economist Daniel Silver wrote, “It is hard to know where the underlying trends in the starts and permits data are because of the recent big changes in the data. But today’s report is a step in a favorable direction following some downbeat reports on residential construction.”

Bill Schultz, chief investment officer at Ball & Associates told Bloomberg, “When we get stronger news, we get concern about rising interest rates. We’re back to the guessing game of what happens with rates and whether economic data will be strong enough for the Fed to act.”

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The housing data supported the perception of the Federal Reserve that the slowdown of the U.S. economic growth was likely temporary. The Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) is scheduled to release the minutes of its meeting tomorrow.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 18,312.53 (+0.07%)
  • S&P 500- 2,127.86 (-0.06%)
  • NASDAQ- 5,070.03 (-0.17%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,254.83 (-1.21%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,670.52 (+2.27%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,995.10 (+0.38%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 11,853.33 (+2.23%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 20,026.54 (+0.68%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 27,693.54 (+0.37%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 4,731.22 (+3.41%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of Wal-Mart Stores declined 4.37% to $76.43 per share. The retail giant reported first-quarter financial results the missed the consensus estimate of Wall Street analysts. Wal-Mart posted $1.03 in earnings per share compared with the $1.05 per share expected by analysts.  Its revenue declined from $114.96 billion to $114.83 billion.

Urban Outfitters closed $34.61 per share, down by 15%. The specialty retailer also reported disappointing financial performance for the first quarter.

The shares of Take-Two Interactive Software surged more than 18% to $28.62 per share. The company reported that its adjusted quarterly revenue increased 83% to $427.7 million. Its adjusted earnings rose 153% to $0.49 per diluted share. Wall Street analysts expected the company to post $0.27 in earnings on $458.9 million in revenue.

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