Stock Market Today: Nasdaq Lifted by Amazon, Apple and … Meta?

Stocks enjoyed a busy but bountiful session for stocks Thursday, fueled by corporate earnings and, for one iconic company, a name change.

The day kicked off with a disappointing third-quarter GDP reading of 2.0% growth, which was well under expectations for 2.8%, and well below Q2’s 6.7% expansion.

“This marks a meaningful deceleration in the ongoing economic recovery, with GDP growth falling to its slowest rate since the COVID-19 recession,” says Michael Reynolds, Vice President of Investment Strategy at wealth management firm Glenmede. “However, this need not disrupt the longer-term recovery trajectory of the U.S. economy, as producers continue to shake the dust off of global supply chains.”

Initial unemployment claims plumbed another pandemic-era low, however, reaching 281,000 for the week ended Oct. 23 – 10,000 filings under the prior week and 8,000 fewer than expected.

Wall Street offered up plenty to like on the earnings front, too.

Merck (MRK, +6.1%), which is awaiting FDA approval for its COVID-19 antiviral molnupiravir, delivered Q3 revenues and earnings that whizzed past analysts’ estimates. The same was true at Caterpillar (CAT, +4.1%) where construction-machinery revenues jumped by 30% from the year-ago period.

Sign up for Kiplinger’s FREE Investing Weekly e-letter for stock, ETF and mutual fund recommendations, and other investing advice.

Ford (F, +8.7%) topped earnings expectations, raised its full-year guidance and thrilled income investors by restoring its quarterly payout at 10 cents per share, representing a 2.4% yield at current prices.

Also contributing to the day’s gains were (AMZN, +1.6%) and Apple (AAPL, +2.5%), which ran up heading into their earnings reports, due out after Thursday’s close.

The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.4% to 15,448, surpassing its previous record close from early September, while the S&P 500 (+1.0% to 4,596) also notched a new all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.7% to 35,730) finished in the green, too.

stock chart for 102821

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 rebounded aggressively from yesterday’s losses, jumping 2.0% to 2,297.
  • U.S. crude oil futures rose 0.2% to finish at $82.81 per barrel.
  • Gold futures gained 0.2% to settle at $1,802.60 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) was off by 4.3% to 16.25.
  • Bitcoin stemmed its recent losses with a 3.7% advance to $61,307.73. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
  • eBay (EBAY) slumped 6.8% after the online marketplace reported earnings. While EBAY’s adjusted earnings of 90 cents per share on $2.5 billion in revenue beat analysts’ consensus estimates, gross merchandise value was down 10% from the year-ago period and the company forecast lower-than-expected revenue for the fourth quarter. Stifel analysts kept a Buy rating on EBAY, saying volume in focus categories continues to outperform. Additionally, “The company upped its 2021 share buyback by $2 billion with plans to repurchase $7 billion this year,” the analysts wrote.
  • Twilio (TWLO, -17.6%) was another post-earnings loser. The cloud communications platform reported adjusted third-quarter earnings of 1 cent per share on $740 million in revenue – more than analysts were anticipating. However, it also guided for a fourth-quarter loss between 23 cents per share and 26 cents per share – wider than the 7-cents-per-share loss analysts, on average, are calling for – and said George Hu is stepping down as chief operating officer. Argus Research analyst Jim Kelleher still thinks TWLO is a Buy. “Twilio, via its text, email and other platforms, provides businesses with an opportunity to directly engage with their customers,” he says. “We see this as a competitive advantage, given that restrictions on digital privacy are only likely to increase.”

Meet “Meta”

And as for the name change? Well … “Facebook” is no more.

Sort of.

While the social network will retain its moniker from back when CEO Mark Zuckerberg co-created it in college, the parent company’s name will become “Meta” to reflect the “metaverse” – effectively a blending of the physical and digital/virtual worlds.

A few more things will be changing, too, including how Meta reports its financials.

“Starting with our results for the fourth quarter of 2021, we plan to report on two operating segments: Family of Apps and Reality Labs,” the company says. (Remember, Facebook – ahem, Meta – is more than the flagship platform: It also owns Instgram, Oculus and the global messaging giant WhatsApp.)

And FB shares, which were up 1.5% in reaction, will trade as MVRS starting on Dec. 1.

While Meta is taking a deep, deep dive into this emerging technology, it’s hardly the only company that’s positioned to profit if and when the metaverse truly takes off. Here, we look at seven stocks that could harness the power of a metaverse market that some estimate could explode to $800 billion in roughly three years.