U.S. stocks mixed after Walmart beats but debt ceiling worries remain

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U.S. stocks mixed after Walmart beats but debt ceiling worries remain
Credit: © Reuters.

Investing.com -- U.S. stocks were mixed on Thursday after a strong forecast by Walmart was overshadowed by still-unresolved negotiations over raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

At 13:42 ET (17:42 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 158 points or 0.5%, while the S&P 500 was up 0.2% and the NASDAQ Composite was up 0.8%.

Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT ) shares rose 1.3% after the biggest U.S. retailer said first-quarter sales rose 8%, fueled by grocery sales that offset sales of more discretionary items such as electronics and apparel. It raised its full-year forecast.

Cisco Systems Inc (NASDAQ: CSCO ) shares dipped 0.2% after the networking hardware maker reported a drop in orders, a possible harbinger for weaker tech spending as companies brace for tougher economic times. 

In economic news, new jobless claims of 242,000 were lower than expectations and lower than the prior week, another sign of a tight labor market. Existing home sales fell 3.4% in April from the prior month, well more than expected.

About two-thirds of futures traders expect the Federal Reserve to pause its interest rate hikes when it meets in June, as officials assess how well their actions to date have done to cool inflation . Though economic data in recent weeks has shown a slowing in the pace of price increases, the still-tight labor market might complicate the Fed’s calculations.

Not everyone agrees on a pause, however. Dallas Federal Reserve President Lorie Logan said Thursday that the economic data doesn’t justify a pause. “The data in coming weeks could yet show that it is appropriate to skip a meeting,” she said in a prepared speech to bankers in Texas. “As of today, though, we aren’t there yet.”

Another factor in focus is the debt ceiling, which Congress must raise or suspend in the next couple of weeks for the U.S. to avoid the possibility of default. While lawmakers and President Joe Biden have said the U.S. won’t default, the matter is still being negotiated as an early June deadline looms.

Biden was in Japan for the weekend meeting of world leaders at the G-7, where the debt ceiling will likely be a topic of conversation, along with China and Russia and geopolitical tensions.

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