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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday, extending the rally seen late in the previous session. Tech stocks helped lead the advance, resulting in a substantial increase by the Nasdaq.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq soared 384.50 points or 3.3 percent to a nearly five-month closing high of 12,200.82, while the S&P 500 jumped 60.55 points or 1.5 percent to 4,179.76, it's best closing level in over five months.

Meanwhile, the narrower Dow spent most of the day in negative territory, with the blue chip index edging down 39.02 points or 0.1 percent to 34,053.94.

The surge by the Nasdaq came as Meta Platforms (META) led a tech sector rally, with the Facebook parent skyrocketing by 23.3 percent to a nearly eight-month closing high.

The spike by Meta came after the company reported better than expected fourth quarter revenues and announced a $40 billion stock buyback.

Stocks also continued to benefit from a positive reaction to the Federal Reserve's interest rate announcement on Wednesday, with traders expressing optimism the Fed is nearing the end of its rate hiking cycle.

At the same time, the Dow bucked the uptrend due partly to a notable decline by shares of Merck (MRK), which tumbled by 3.3 percent after the drug giant provided disappointing guidance.

Traders were also looking ahead to the release of the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

Economists currently expected employment to increase by 185,000 jobs in January after jumping by 223,000 jobs in December, while the unemployment rate is expected to inch up to 3.6 percent from 3.5 percent.

A day ahead of the monthly report, the Labor Department released a report unexpectedly showing another modest decrease by first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended January 28th.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 183,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 186,000. The dip surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to climb to 200,000.

Jobless claims declined for the fourth time in five weeks, falling to their lowest level since hitting 181,000 in the week ended April 23, 2022.

A separate report released by the Labor Department showed U.S. labor productivity surged by more than expected in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Sector News

Airline stocks moved sharply higher on the day, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index soaring by 5.7 percent to its best closing level in almost eight months.

Substantial strength was also visible among software stocks, as reflected by the 3.8 percent spike by the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index. With the jump, the index reached a five-month closing high.

Housing stocks also saw significant strength on the day, resulting in a 3.3 percent surge by the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index. The index ended the session at its best closing level in a year.

Retail, computer hardware and semiconductor stocks also showed strong moves to the upside, while energy and gold stocks bucked the uptrend.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, while South Korea's Kospi climbed by 0.7 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index surged by 2.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.3 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries pulled back near the unchanged line after initially extending yesterday's late-day rally. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by less than a basis point to 3.396 percent.

Looking Ahead

While the monthly jobs report is likely to be in the spotlight on Friday, traders are also likely to keep an eye on a report on service sector activity.

Earnings news will also continue to attract attention, with Alphabet (GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN) and Apple (AAPL) among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today's trading.

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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - With technology stocks turning in a strong performance, the Nasdaq has shown a substantial move to the upside during trading on Thursday. The tech-heavy index is extending the surge seen late in the previous session, reaching its best intraday level since last September.

Currently, the Nasdaq is hovering near its best levels of the day, up 375.01 points or 3.2 percent at 12,191.33. The S&P 500 is also up 59.24 points or 1.4 percent at 4,178.45 after reaching a five-month intraday high.

Meanwhile, the narrower Dow remains in negative territory, with the blue chip index down 112.89 points or 0.3 percent at 33,980.07.

The surge by the Nasdaq comes as Meta Platforms (META) is leading a tech sector rally, with the Facebook parent skyrocketing by 26.8 percent.

The spike by Meta comes after the company reported better than expected fourth quarter revenues and announced a $40 billion stock buyback.

Stocks also continue to benefit from a positive reaction to the Federal Reserve's interest rate announcement on Wednesday, with traders expressing optimism the Fed is nearing the end of its rate hiking cycle.

At the same time, the Dow is bucking the uptrend due partly to a notable decline by shares of Merck (MRK), which are down by 4.6percent after the drug giant provided disappointing guidance.

Traders are also looking ahead to the release of the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

A day ahead of the monthly report, the Labor Department released a report unexpectedly showing another modest decrease by first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended January 28th.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 183,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 186,000. The dip surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to climb to 200,000.

With the expected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 181,000 in the week ended April 23, 2022.

A separate report released by the Labor Department showed U.S. labor productivity surged by more than expected in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Sector News

Airline stocks continue to see substantial strength in afternoon trading, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index soaring by 6.3 percent to a nearly eight-month intraday high.

Considerable strength also remains visible among software stocks, as reflected by the 3.4 percent spike by the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index. The index has reached its best intraday level in well over four months.

Housing stocks are also seeing significant strength on the day, driving the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index up by 3.2 percent to a one-year intraday high.

Retail, computer hardware and commercial real estate stocks have also moved sharply higher, while energy, gold and pharmaceutical stocks are seeing notable weakness.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, while South Korea's Kospi climbed by 0.7 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index surged by 2.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.3 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.8 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have pulled back well off their highs but continue to see modest strength. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.2 basis points at 3.385 percent.

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BRUSSELS (dpa-AFX) - After opening higher, the Switzerland stock market slipped into the red around noon and stayed weak right till the end of the session on Thursday, with investors largely making cautious moves, despite positive global cues.

The benchmark SMI, which climbed to 11,279.81 in early trades, ended with a loss of 12.51 points or 0.11% at 11,188.42, nearly 50 points off the day's low.

ABB, Zurich Insurance Group and Novartis lost 2.4 to 2.8%. Roche Holding ended nearly 2% down, while Nestle and Swisscom shed 1.08% and 0.74%, respectively.

Partners Group climbed more than 9%. Sika, Sonova, Gebrit, Lonza Group and Credit Suisse surged 4.5 to 6%.

Givaudan ended nearly 4% up. Logitech rallied 3.3% and Alcon gained about 2.35%. UBS Group, Richemont and Holcim also ended notably higher.

In the Mid Price Index, Zur Rose zoomed nearly 17%. Straumann Holding surged 12%. Kuehne & Nagel, VAT Group and AMS gained 7.8%, 7.1% and 6.9%, respectively.

Temenos Group, Schindler Ps, Schindler Holding, Georg Fischer, Ems Chemie Holding, Belimo Holding, Tecan Group, Bachem Holding and Adecco ended stronger by 3.3 to 5.5%.

In economic news, consumer sentiment in Switzerland sharply improved in the January quarter to top economists' expectations, driven by significantly less pessimism among households' regarding their own and the national economic situation in the coming months, survey data from the State Secretariat For Economic Affairs, or SECO, showed.

The consumer confidence index climbed to -30 from -47 in the October survey. Economists had expected a score of -38. The latest reading was the strongest since the second quarter survey of 2022, when it was -28.

However, the headline reading remained well below its long-term average of -6 points.

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BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT/PARIS (dpa-AFX) - European stocks closed higher on Thursday with investors digesting the monetary policy announcements from the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of England (BoE), and reacting to the Federal Reserve's interest rate decision, and Fed Chief Jerome Powell's comments.

The pan European Stoxx 600 climbed 1.35%. The U.K.'s FTSE 100 gained 0.76%, Germany's DAX surged 2.16% and France's CAC 40 advanced 1.26%, while Switzerland's SMI edged down 0.11%.

Among other markets in Europe, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Turkiye ended with sharp to moderate gains.

Austria and Greece posted modest gains, while Denmark and Norway closed weak.

The BoE raised its benchmark rate by a half percentage point to 4% today, citing stronger-than-expected wage growth but softened its stance on future tightening as inflation is set to return to the target in medium term. The bank rate is now the highest since 2008.

In the monetary policy report, the BoE said inflation is expected to fall quickly this year and the recession would be much shallower than projected in November. However, growth is forecast to remain well below pre-pandemic rates.

Inflation is seen falling to around 4% towards the end of this year and to hit the 2% target sustainably in the medium term.

Inflation has turned the corner, Governor Andrew Bailey said at the press conference.

Gross domestic product is expected to shrink 0.1% in the first quarter of 2023 and to contract 0.5% in the whole year as high energy prices and the path of market interest rates weigh on output.

The ECB raised its key interest rates by 50 basis points, in line with expectations, and signaled that policymakers plan to repeat the move in March, when they will evaluate the future path of policy rates.

Following the latest hike, the main refinancing rate, or refi, is at 3%, the deposit facility rate is at 2.5% and the lending rate is now 3.25%.

Confirming existing market expectations, the bank said policymakers intends to raise interest rates by another 50 basis points at its next monetary policy meeting in March and it will then evaluate the subsequent path of its monetary policy.

In the UK market, Ocado Group soared 11.3% and JD Sports Fashion zoomed 11.15%.

Persimmon, Segro and Scottish Mortgage climbed 8.6%, 8.25% and 7.8%, respectively.

Hargreaves Lansdown, Ashtead Group, BT Group, RS Group, Taylor Wimpey, WPP, St. Jame's Place, Berkeley Group Holdings, Spirax-Sarco Engineering, Unite Group, British Land, Melrose Industries and B&M Value Retail surged 5 to 7%.

Airtel Africa declined 4.4%. Centrica, BAE Systems, BP, Standard Chartered, Rio Tinto, HSBC Holdings, Shell and Reckitt Benckiser lost 1 to 3.2%.

In the German market, Siemens Healthineers, Vonovia, Sartorius, Porsche, Infineon Technologies, Puma, Adidas, Continental and Deutsche Post surged 6 to 9%.

Zalando, Siemens Energy, Volkswagen, Fresenius Medical Care, Mercedes-Benz Group, Brenntag, Symrise, SAP, BMW, Daimler, Fresenius and Covestro gained 2.3 to 5.4%.

In Paris, Dassault Systemes zoomed nearly 13%. Unibail Rodamco rallied 7.8%, while Publicis Groupe, CapGemini and WorldLine gained 6.5 to 7%.

Eurofins Scientific, Teleperformance, Kering, Stellantis, Michelin, Saint Gobain, Alstom, STMicroElectronics and Hermes International advanced 3 to 6%. LVMH, Veolia, Legrand, Essilor, Schneider Electric, Renault, Airbus Group and L'Oreal also ended sharply higher.

Thales, BNP Paribas, Sanofi, TotalEnergies and Engie ended lower by 1 to 3.2%.

In Swiss economic news, consumer sentiment sharply improved in the January quarter to top economists' expectations, driven by significantly less pessimism among households' regarding their own and the national economic situation in the coming months, survey data from the State Secretariat For Economic Affairs, or SECO, showed.

The consumer confidence index climbed to -30 from -47 in the October survey. Economists had expected a score of -38. The latest reading was the strongest since the second quarter survey of 2022, when it was -28.

However, the headline reading remained well below its long-term average of -6 points.

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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Stocks have moved mostly higher in morning trading on Thursday, extending the rally seen late in the previous session. The tech-heavy Nasdaq has shown a particularly strong upward move, reaching its best levels since last September.

In recent trading, the Nasdaq and S&P 500 have reached new highs for the session. The Nasdaq is up 351.45 points or 3.0 percent at 12,167.77, while the S&P 500 is up 59.65 points or 1.5 percent at 4,178.86.

Meanwhile, the narrower Dow has climbed off its worst levels but remains modestly lower, slipping 77.39 points or 0.2 percent at 34,015.57.

The surge by the Nasdaq comes as Meta Platforms (META) is leading a tech sector rally, with the Facebook parent is skyrocketing by 24.2 percent.

The spike by Meta comes after the company reported better than expected fourth quarter revenues and announced a $40 billion stock buyback.

Stocks also continue to benefit from a positive reaction to the Federal Reserve's interest rate announcement on Wednesday, with traders expressing optimism the Fed is nearing the end of its rate hiking cycle.

At the same time, the Dow is bucking the uptrend due partly to a notable decline by shares of Merck (MRK), which are down by 3.0 percent after the drug giant provided disappointing guidance.

Traders are also looking ahead to the release of the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

A day ahead of the monthly report, the Labor Department released a report unexpectedly showing another modest decrease by first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended January 28th.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 183,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 186,000. The dip surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to climb to 200,000.

With the expected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 181,000 in the week ended April 23, 2022.

A separate report released by the Labor Department showed U.S. labor productivity surged by more than expected in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Airline stocks have moved sharply higher on the day, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index soaring by 4.2 percent to its best intraday level in over five months.

Substantial strength is also visible among software stocks, as reflected by the 3.0 percent spike by the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index. The index has reached a four-month intraday high.

Retail stocks are also seeing significant strength, resulting in a 3.0 percent surge by the Dow Jones U.S. Retail Index. With the jump, the index has also reached its best intraday level in over four months.

Computer hardware, commercial real estate and housing stocks are also showing strong moves to the upside, while oil service, gold and pharmaceutical stocks are seeing notable weakness.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, while South Korea's Kospi climbed by 0.7 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has surged by 1.9 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 1.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.6 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are extending the rally seen late in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 3.2 basis points at 3.365 percent.

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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Following the rally seen late in the previous session, stocks are likely to see further upside in early trading on Thursday. The major index futures are currently pointing to a higher open for the markets, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 futures jumping by 1.7 percent.

A surge by shares of Meta Platforms (META) is likely to contribute to an early rally by the Nasdaq, as the Facebook parent is skyrocketing by 19.9 percent in pre-market trading.

The spike by Meta comes after the company reported better than expected fourth quarter revenues and announced a $40 billion stock buyback.

Stocks may also continue to benefit from a positive reaction to the Federal Reserve's interest rate announcement on Wednesday, with traders expressing optimism the Fed is nearing the end of its rate hiking cycle.

Overall trading activity may be somewhat subdued, however, as traders look ahead to the release of the Labor Department's closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.

A day of the monthly report, the Labor Department released a report unexpectedly showing another modest decrease by first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended January 28th.

The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 183,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 186,000. The dip surprised economists, who had expected jobless claims to climb to 200,000.

With the expected decrease, jobless claims fell to their lowest level since hitting 181,000 in the week ended April 23, 2022.

A separate report released by the Labor Department showed U.S. labor productivity surged by more than expected in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Shortly after the start of trading, the Commerce Department is scheduled to release its report on new orders for manufactured goods in the month of December. Factory orders are expected to surge by 2.3 percent in December after tumbling by 1.8 percent in November.

Stocks moved sharply higher late in the trading session on Wednesday, as traders reacted positively to the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement. With the upward move, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 reached their best closing levels in four months.

The major averages all finished the day in positive territory, although the Dow inched up just 6.92 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 34,092.96. The Nasdaq surged 231.77 points or 2.0 percent to 11,816.32, while the S&P 500 jumped 42.61 points or 1.1 percent to 4,119.21.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, while South Korea's Kospi climbed by 0.7 percent.

The major European markets have also moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has surged by 1.6 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.9 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.8 percent.

In commodities trading, crude oil futures are falling $0.38 to $76.03 a barrel after plunging $2.46 to $76.41 barrel on Wednesday. Meanwhile, after edging down $2.50 to $1,942.80 an ounce in the previous session, gold futures are jumping $23.30 to $1,966.10 an ounce.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 128.29 yen versus the 128.98 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Wednesday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.0980 compared to yesterday's $1.0990.

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BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT/PARIS (dpa-AFX) - Reactions to the Fed decision, major economic announcements, and quarterly results from important corporates will be the highlights on Thursday.

UK interest rates were raised by half a percentage point to 4 percent by the Bank of England on Thursday. This is the highest base rate in the last 14 years.

In a renewed offensive move, Russia attacked the eastern region of Ukraine, especially the Kramatorsk city region. On Wednesday missile attacks killed at least three people.

Early signs from the U.S. Futures Index suggest that Wall Street might open broadly up.

As of 7.20 am ET, the Dow futures were down 128.00 points, the S&P 500 futures were adding 17.25 points and the Nasdaq 100 futures were progressing 166.25 points.

The U.S. major averages finished in positive territory on Wednesday. The Dow inched up 6.92 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 34,092.96. The Nasdaq surged 231.77 points or 2.0 percent to 11,816.32, while the S&P 500 jumped 42.61 points or 1.1 percent to 4,119.21.

On the economic front, the Labor Department's Jobless Claims for the week is scheduled at 8.30 am ET. The consensus is 193k, while it was up 186K in the prior week.

The Labor Department's Productivity and Costs for the fourth quarter will be published at 8.30 am ET. The consensus is up 2.4 percent, while it was up 0.8 percent in the prior quarter.

Factory Orders for December will be issued at 10.00 am ET. The consensus is up 2.2 percent, while it was down 1.8 percent in the previous month.

The Energy Information Administration or EIA's Natural Gas Report for the week is expected at 10.30 am ET. In the prior week, the gas stock was down 91 bcf.

The Fed Balance Sheet for the week is scheduled at 4.30 pm ET. In the prior week, the level was at $8.47 trillion.

Asian shares were slightly up at the closing on Thursday.

Chinese shares ended little changed. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index finished marginally higher at 3,285.67. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index slipped 0.52 percent to 21,958.36.

Japanese shares ended a tad higher. The Nikkei average inched up 0.20 percent to 27,402.05. The broader Topix index ended 0.36 percent lower at 1,965.17.

Australian markets rose slightly. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 0.13 percent to 7,511.60 and the broader All Ordinaries index closed 0.24 percent higher at 7,728.50.

European shares are trading mostly higher. CAC 40 of France is progressing 14.97 points or 0.21 percent. DAX of Germany is adding 189.83 points or 1.21 percent. FTSE 100 of England is gaining 38.58 points or 0.50 percent. The Swiss Market Index is down 24.93 points or 0.22 percent.

Euro Stoxx 50 which provides a Blue-chip representation of supersector leaders in the Eurozone, is up 0.74 percent.

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BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT/PARIS (dpa-AFX) - European stocks traded higher on Thursday, as investors reacted to dovish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and awaited interest-rate decisions from the European Central Bank and the Bank of England later in the day.

Both central banks are expected to raise rates by 50 basis points and ECB President Lagarde's press conference will be the key driver for markets.

The pan European STOXX 600 climbed 0.6 percent to 455.89 after ending flat with a negative bias on Wednesday.

The German DAX rallied 1.4 percent, France's CAC 40 index added 0.6 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent.

Sweden's Electrolux plunged 8 percent after predicting lower sales volumes in 2023.

Swiss wealth management firm Julius Baer rallied 3.8 percent after it closed its 2020-22 business cycle by hitting all its financial targets.

ING tumbled 4.5 percent on issuing disappointing guidance for 2023.

Banco Santander soared 4 percent after it achieved a record attributable profit of €9,605 million in 2022.

Shell rose over 2 percent. The oil & gas giant launched a $4 billion share buyback program after reporting record annual profits.

Wizz Air Holdings jumped more than 5 percent after saying it carried 4,149,850 passengers in January, an increase of 73.1 percent from last year.

German lender Deutsche Bank lost 4.2 percent after its pre-tax profit came in below expectations.

Semiconductor manufacturer Infineon jumped 6 percent after posting higher profit and revenue for its first quarter.

Medical device maker Siemens Healthineers surged 6.4 percent after confirming its guidance for full-year revenue growth.

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BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT/PARIS (dpa-AFX) - U.K. stocks advanced on Thursday and the pound weakened as investors awaited interest-rate decisions from the European Central Bank and the Bank of England.

Overnight, the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked interest rates by 25 basis points, as widely expected, raising hopes of a downshift in the Fed's policy later this year.

The benchmark FTSE 100 was up 37 points, or half a percent, at 7,797 after finishing marginally lower on Wednesday.

Shell rose over 2 percent. The oil & gas giant launched a $4 billion share buyback program after reporting record annual profits.

Miner Anglo American gained half a percent after reporting a 10 percent rise in production in the fourth quarter.

Wizz Air Holdings jumped more than 5 percent after saying it carried 4,149,850 passengers in January, an increase of 73.1 percent from last year.

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BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT/PARIS (dpa-AFX) - French stocks were sharply higher on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve said that 'disinflationary process has started' but 'ongoing increases' in rates will be needed to curb price pressures.

Euro zone bond yields fell, and the dollar hit its lowest level in over nine months as Fed Chair Jerome Powell's dovish comments in a press conference stoked expectation that the Fed might start cutting rates before 2024.

The European Central Bank and the Bank of England will announce their monetary policy decisions later in the day.

Both are expected to hike interest rates by 50 basis points as inflation remains elevated.

The benchmark CAC 40 was up 77 points, or 1.1 percent, at 7,154 after closing marginally lower in the previous session.

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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - FirstEnergy Corp. (FE) said that it agreed to sell an additional 30% ownership interest in its FirstEnergy Transmission LLC business to Brookfield Super-Core Infrastructure Partners.

FirstEnergy noted that proceeds from the $3.5 billion all-cash deal will further strengthen its financial position.

The transaction is expected to close by early 2024.

FirstEnergy Transmission LLC is the holding company for three of FirstEnergy's FERC-regulated transmission utility subsidiaries: American Transmission Systems, Incorporated (ATSI); Mid-Atlantic Interstate Transmission, LLC (MAIT); and Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line Company (TrAILCo) - which comprise one of the largest transmission systems in PJM. FirstEnergy also owns transmission assets in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland that are not part of FirstEnergy Transmission.

In May 2022, FirstEnergy completed the sale of a 19.9% non-controlling interest in FET to Brookfield. Upon closing of the transaction announced today, FirstEnergy will remain the majority owner of FirstEnergy Transmission, and FirstEnergy's workforce will continue to operate the business. FirstEnergy will retain nearly 70% of its overall regulated transmission portfolio.

Additionally, FirstEnergy said Thursday that it has increased its 2021-2025 long-term growth plan to about $18 billion, an increase of approximately $1 billion from the $17 billion target established in 2021.

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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Beazer Homes USA Inc. (BZH) announced a profit for first quarter that decreased from last year but beat the Street estimates.

The company's bottom line came in at $24.3 million, or $0.80 per share. This compares with $34.9 million, or $1.14 per share, in last year's first quarter.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $0.74 per share, according to figures compiled by Thomson Reuters. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

The company's revenue for the quarter fell 0.6% to $444.1 million from $446.7 million last year.

Beazer Homes USA Inc. earnings at a glance (GAAP) :

-Earnings (Q1): $24.3 Mln. vs. $34.9 Mln. last year.

-EPS (Q1): $0.80 vs. $1.14 last year.

-Analyst Estimates: $0.74

-Revenue (Q1): $444.1 Mln vs. $446.7 Mln last year.

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FOSTER CITY (dpa-AFX) - Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) reported earnings for its fourth quarter that increased from the same period last year and beat the Street estimates.

The company's bottom line totaled $1.64 billion, or $1.30 per share. This compares with $382 million, or $0.30 per share, in last year's fourth quarter.

Excluding items, Gilead Sciences Inc. reported adjusted earnings of $1.67 per share for the period.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $1.49 per share, according to figures compiled by Thomson Reuters. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

The company's revenue for the quarter rose 2.1% to $7.39 billion from $7.24 billion last year.

Gilead Sciences Inc. earnings at a glance (GAAP) :

-Earnings (Q4): $1.64 Bln. vs. $382 Mln. last year.

-EPS (Q4): $1.30 vs. $0.30 last year.

-Analyst Estimate: $1.49

-Revenue (Q4): $7.39 Bln vs. $7.24 Bln last year.

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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - United States Steel Corp. (X) released a profit for fourth quarter that decreased from the same period last year but beat the Street estimates.

The company's earnings came in at $174 million, or $0.68 per share. This compares with $1.07 billion, or $3.75 per share, in last year's fourth quarter.

Excluding items, United States Steel Corp. reported adjusted earnings of $226 million or $0.87 per share for the period.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $0.63 per share, according to figures compiled by Thomson Reuters. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

The company's revenue for the quarter fell 22.8% to $4.34 billion from $5.62 billion last year.

United States Steel Corp. earnings at a glance (GAAP) :

-Earnings (Q4): $174 Mln. vs. $1.07 Bln. last year.

-EPS (Q4): $0.68 vs. $3.75 last year.

-Analyst Estimates: $0.63

-Revenue (Q4): $4.34 Bln vs. $5.62 Bln last year.

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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Kohl's Corporation (KSS) Thursday announced the appointment of Tom Kingsbury as Chief Executive Officer.

Kingsbury has served as Interim Chief Executive Officer since December 2, 2022. He will continue to serve on the company's Board.

'Tom's exceptional track record growing retail businesses and his deep knowledge of Kohl's makes him the right choice for Kohl's next CEO. Since joining the Board, Tom has added valuable insight and perspective, and as Interim CEO, he has demonstrated strong leadership and made a meaningful and positive impact on the organization,' said Board Chair Peter Boneparth. 'The Board has the full confidence in Tom's ability to drive the business forward, focusing on accelerating sales and profitability, and we look forward to our continued work together.'

'This is a pivotal time for Kohl's, and I am excited and energized to work with our talented team to elevate our performance and create value,' said Kingsbury. 'During the last few months, I have seen the passion and dedication of the Kohl's team and the unique value we can bring to our customers nationwide. I look forward to partnering with the Board and leadership team to build on our strengths and deliver on our strategy for our shareholders and other stakeholders.'

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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Synaptics Inc (SYNA) revealed earnings for second quarter that decreased from the same period last year and missed the Street estimates.

The company's bottom line came in at $22.0 million, or $0.55 per share. This compares with $69.5 million, or $1.71 per share, in last year's second quarter.

Excluding items, Synaptics Inc reported adjusted earnings of $88.5 million or $2.20 per share for the period.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $2.34 per share, according to figures compiled by Thomson Reuters. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

The company's revenue for the quarter fell 16.0% to $353.1 million from $420.5 million last year.

Synaptics Inc earnings at a glance (GAAP) :

-Earnings (Q2): $22.0 Mln. vs. $69.5 Mln. last year.

-EPS (Q2): $0.55 vs. $1.71 last year.

-Analyst Estimates: $2.34

-Revenue (Q2): $353.1 Mln vs. $420.5 Mln last year.

-Guidance:

Next quarter revenue guidance: $310 to $340 Mln

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CUPERTINO (dpa-AFX) - Apple Inc. (AAPL) released earnings for first quarter that decreased from the same period last year and missed the Street estimates.

The company's earnings totaled $30.00 billion, or $1.88 per share. This compares with $34.63 billion, or $2.10 per share, in last year's first quarter.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $1.94 per share, according to figures compiled by Thomson Reuters. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

The company's revenue for the quarter fell 5.5% to $117.15 billion from $123.95 billion last year.

Apple Inc. earnings at a glance (GAAP) :

-Earnings (Q1): $30.00 Bln. vs. $34.63 Bln. last year.

-EPS (Q1): $1.88 vs. $2.10 last year.

-Analyst Estimates: $1.94

-Revenue (Q1): $117.15 Bln vs. $123.95 Bln last year.

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CHANDLER (dpa-AFX) - Microchip Technology Inc. (MCHP) reported a profit for its third quarter that increased from the same period last year and beat the Street estimates.

The company's bottom line came in at $580.3 million, or $1.04 per share. This compares with $352.8 million, or $0.62 per share, in last year's third quarter.

Excluding items, Microchip Technology Inc. reported adjusted earnings of $863.7 million or $1.56 per share for the period.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $1.55 per share, according to figures compiled by Thomson Reuters. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

The company's revenue for the quarter rose 23.3% to $2.17 billion from $1.76 billion last year.

Microchip Technology Inc. earnings at a glance (GAAP) :

-Earnings (Q3): $580.3 Mln. vs. $352.8 Mln. last year.

-EPS (Q3): $1.04 vs. $0.62 last year.

-Analyst Estimate: $1.55

-Revenue (Q3): $2.17 Bln vs. $1.76 Bln last year.

-Guidance:

Next quarter EPS guidance: $1.61 to $1.63

Next quarter revenue guidance: $2.191 - $2.256 Bln

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DEARBORN (dpa-AFX) - Ford Motor Co (F) released earnings for fourth quarter that decreased from last year and missed the Street estimates.

The company's earnings came in at $1.3 billion, or $0.32 per share. This compares with $12.3 billion, or $3.03 per share, in last year's fourth quarter.

Excluding items, Ford Motor Co reported adjusted earnings of $0.51 per share for the period.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $0.62 per share, according to figures compiled by Thomson Reuters. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

The company's revenue for the quarter rose 16.7% to $44.0 billion from $37.7 billion last year.

Ford Motor Co earnings at a glance (GAAP) :

-Earnings (Q4): $1.3 Bln. vs. $12.3 Bln. last year.

-EPS (Q4): $0.32 vs. $3.03 last year.

-Analyst Estimates: $0.62

-Revenue (Q4): $44.0 Bln vs. $37.7 Bln last year.

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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - Camden Property Trust (CPT) released earnings for fourth quarter that decreased from last year

The company's earnings came in at $45.71 million, or $0.42 per share. This compares with $212.90 million, or $2.02 per share, in last year's fourth quarter.

The company's revenue for the quarter rose 23.1% to $375.91 million from $305.36 million last year.

Camden Property Trust earnings at a glance (GAAP) :

-Earnings (Q4): $45.71 Mln. vs. $212.90 Mln. last year.

-EPS (Q4): $0.42 vs. $2.02 last year.

-Revenue (Q4): $375.91 Mln vs. $305.36 Mln last year.

-Guidance:

Next quarter EPS guidance: $0.36 - $0.40

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CANBERA (dpa-AFX) - Australia will on Friday release December figures for home loans, highlighting a modest day for Asia-Pacific economic activity. In November, loans were down 2.0 percent on month and investment lending slipped 3.6 percent.

Singapore will release December numbers for retail sales; in November, sales were down 3.7 percent on month and up 6.2 percent on year.

Hong Kong will provide December data for retail sales; in November, sales were down 4.2 percent on year.

Finally, the markets in Hong Kong and Singapore will see January results for their respective private sector PMIs from S&P Global, while Australia, China and Japan will see services PMI results from S&P, Caixin and Jibun, respectively.

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BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT/PARIS (dpa-AFX) - European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said on Thursday that euro area economic activity is set to remain sluggish in the near term and the unemployment could rise further in the face of slower job creation, as policymakers decided to continue hiking interest rates in a steady manner.

Earlier on Thursday, the ECB Governing Council raised its key interest rates by 50 basis points, in line with expectations, and signaled that policymakers plan to repeat the move in March, when they will evaluate the future path of policy rates.

Citing the modest 0.1 percent GDP growth in the euro area in the fourth quarter of 2022, Lagarde said, 'While above the December Eurosystem staff projections, this outcome means that economic activity has slowed markedly since mid-2022 and we expect it to stay weak in the near term.'

Easing in supply bottlenecks, continued post-pandemic reopening and stability in gas supply supports businesses. Purchasing power could recover on the decline in energy prices and rising wages, thus boosting consumption.

'Overall, the economy has proved more resilient than expected and should recover over the coming quarters,' the ECB chief said in the introductory statement to her post-decision press conference.

Read more: Eurozone Investment Outlook Bleak

Addressing concerns that inflationary pressures could surge again on the unwinding of fiscal stimulus measures that were aimed to help the public with heavy energy bills, Lagarde stressed that the government support measures should be temporary, targeted and tailored to preserving incentives to consume less energy.

 

She urged governments to start rolling back such support measures promptly and in a concerted manner, as the energy crisis has become less acute.

'Any such measures falling short of these principles are likely to drive up medium-term inflationary pressures, which would call for a stronger monetary policy response,' Lagarde warned.

Price pressures remain strong, partly because high energy costs are spreading throughout the economy, the ECB president said.

Risks to the outlook for both growth and inflation have become more balanced, Lagarde said.

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WASHINGTON (dpa-AFX) - After reporting a steep drop in new orders for U.S. manufactured goods in the previous month, the Commerce Department released a report on Thursday showing a notable rebound in factory orders in the month of December.

The Commerce Department said factory orders jumped by 1.8 percent in December after plunging by a revised 1.9 percent in November.

Economists had expected factory orders to surge by 2.2 percent compared to the 1.8 percent slump originally reported for the previous month.

The rebound by factory orders came as durable goods orders spiked by 5.6 percent in December after tumbling by 1.8 percent in November, with orders for transportation equipment leading the rebound.

Meanwhile, the report said orders for non-durable goods slumped by 1.9 percent in December after plunging by 2.1 percent in November.

The Commerce Department also said shipments of manufactured goods slid by 0.7 percent in December following a 0.9 percent decrease in November.

Inventories of manufactured goods rose by 0.4 percent in December after coming in virtually unchanged in the previous month.

With inventories rising and shipments falling, the inventories-to-shipments rate edged up to 1.49 in December from 1.47 in November.

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LONDON (dpa-AFX) - The Bank of England raised its benchmark rate by a half percentage point on Thursday citing stronger-than-expected wage growth but softened its stance on future tightening as inflation is set to return to the target in medium term.

The Monetary Policy Committee voted 7-2 to raise the bank rate by 50 basis points to 4.00 percent, the highest since 2008.

Swati Dhingra and Silvana Tenreyro voted to maintain status quo. They argued that the effects of the past increases were still to come through and the current rate setting would reduce inflation to well below the target in the medium-term.

In the current tightening cycle that began in December 2021, the rate was raised by 390 basis points. The rate hikes added hardship on households with mortgages.

A majority of policymakers said a 0.5 percentage point increase in Bank Rate at this meeting would address the risk that domestic wage and price pressures remained elevated even as external cost pressures waned.

'If there were to be evidence of more persistent pressures, then further tightening in monetary policy would be required,' the MPC said.

In the earlier meetings, the bank repeatedly said the rate could be hiked forcefully. Today the word 'forcefully' was dropped signaling smaller increments going forward.

Economists at ING expect one further 25 basis point rate hike in March, though a rate cut is set to be unlikely for at least a year.

The decision came a day after the US Federal Reserve softened its pace of tightening. The Fed raised the target range for the federal funds rate by 25 basis points to 4.50 to 4.75 percent.

In the monetary policy report, the BoE said inflation is expected to fall quickly this year and the recession would be much shallower than projected in November. However, growth is forecast to remain well below pre-pandemic rates.

Inflation is seen falling to around 4 percent towards the end of this year and to hit the 2 percent target sustainably in the medium term.

Inflation has turned the corner, Governor Andrew Bailey said at the press conference.

Gross domestic product is expected to shrink 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2023 and to contract 0.5 percent in the whole year as high energy prices and the path of market interest rates weigh on output.

The International Monetary Fund provided a much bleaker outlook early this week. The IMF downgraded UK's GDP outlook for this year by 0.9 percentage point to -0.6 percent, citing tighter fiscal and monetary policies and financial conditions.

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