President Barack Obama announced Thursday evening that he had approved the use of U.S. air support in the ongoing Iraqi crisis. With Islamic State militants expanding their stronghold across the northern part of the country, Obama said targeted airstrikes are necessary to prevent the conflict from escalating.
However, the President promised that he would not send in any ground troops and has no intention of beginning another war in Iraq.
In other news around the markets:
- After a difficult year with two lost passenger planes, Malaysian Airlines announced that it will completely restructure the company in an effort to return the airline to profitability. A more detailed version of the plans are due out at the end of August, but the company will likely turn private and shuffle its board of directors.
- On Friday, the World Health Organization declared that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa has become an international health risk. The organization said the virus has killed nearly 1,000 people in West Africa and has the potential to spread internationally if not dealt with on a global level.
- The Wall Street Journal’s monthly forecasting survey showed that the majority of analysts see U.S. GDP growing around 3 percent in the second half of the year. The survey also revealed that most economists expect that business spending will be a key driver for growth as companies make up for past frugality.
- The 72-hour truce between Israel and Hamas expired without any progress towards a lasting solution. Following the expiration of the ceasefire, Hamas fired between 10 and 20 rockets into Israel despite the military’s warning that they would retaliate with a heavy hand if more missiles were fired.
Asian markets were lower with the exception of the Shanghai and the Shenzhen composites, which gained 0.31 percent and 0.51 percent, respectively. The NIKKEI was down 2.98 percent, the KOSPI lost 1.14 percent and the Hang Seng index fell 0.23 percent.
European markets were down across the board with the exception of the MIB, which eked out a 0.03 percent gain. The FTSE lost 0.71 percent, the STOXX 600 was down 1.06 percent, the DAX fell 1.04 percent and the IBEX lost 0.53 percent.
Energy futures were higher with the possibility of a disruption in Iraq heavy on investors’ minds. Brent futures gained 0.86 percent, and WTI futures were up 0.67 percent. Gold and silver gained 0.43 percent and 0.50 percent, respectively, but industrial metals were mixed. Copper lost 0.27 percent and zinc was down 1.23 percent, but aluminum gained 0.15 percent and tin was up 0.54 percent.
Currency markets were rattled by news that the United States was planning air strikes in Iraq. The dollar tumbled, losing 0.19 percent against the euro, 0.36 percent against the yen and 0.18 percent against the pound.
Notable earnings released on Thursday included:
- Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) reported second quarter EPS of $1.11 on revenue of $5.95 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.87 on revenue of $5.88 billion.
- BCE (NYSE: BCE) reported second quarter EPS of $0.82 on revenue of $5.20 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.77 on revenue of $5.00 billion.
- Global Partners LP (NYSE: GLP) reported a second quarter loss of $0.15 on revenue of $4.57 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.29 on revenue of $4.77 billion.
- HSN (NASDAQ: HSNI) reported second quarter EPS of $0.76 on revenue of $855.20 million, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.79 on revenue of $812.61 million.
Stocks moving in the Premarket included:
- Consol Energy (NYSE: CNX) was down 5.01 percent in premarket trading after gaining 2.94 percent over the past five days.
- Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB) lost 4.47 percent in premarket trading after falling 1.41 percent on Thursday
- Cognizant Technology(NASDAQ: CTSH) fell 3.11 percent in premarket trade after losing 9.52 percent over the past week.
- Cerner(NASDAQ: CERN) was down 1.75 percent in premarket trading after falling 1.63 percent on Thursday.
Notable earnings releases expected on Thursday include:
- Magna International (NYSE: MGA) is expected to report second quarter EPS of $2.22 on revenue of $9.36 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $1.78 on revenue of $8.96 billion.
- Brookfield Asset Management (NYSE: BAM) is expected to report second quarter EPS of $0.31 on revenue of $4.16 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.31 on revenue of $5.17 billion.
- Susser (NASDAQ: SUSS) is expected to report second quarter EPS of $0.93 on revenue of $1.79 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.59 on revenue of $1.55 billion.
- Bloomin’ Brands (NASDAQ: BLMN) is expected to report third quarter EPS of $0.14 on revenue of $1.05 billion, compared to last year’s EPS of $0.10 on revenue of $967.57 million.
Notable economic releases expected on Friday include the Canadian unemployment rate, the British trade balance, French industrial production and the German trade balance.
For a recap of Thursday’s market action, click here.
Tune into Benzinga's premarket info show with Dennis Dick and Joel Elconin here.
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