Despite falling nearly 1% this morning after Fed comments spooked investors, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) recovered over the course of the session to finish down just 21 points, or 0.1%.
In an interview with the Fox Business Network this morning, James Bullard, the President St. Louis Fed Reserve, said again that he believes the central bank should raise interest rates by the first quarter of 2015. Bullard explained that unemployment was on its way below 6%, and the inflation rate would soon hit the Fed's target rate of 2%, meaning the economy is closer to full health than many Americans may realize. This is not the first time that talk of raising interest rates has sparked a sell-off on Wall Street, as many investors believe that low borrowing rates are aiding the economic recovery, and that an interest rate hike could spoil it. Increased interest rates will also lift bond yields, making treasuries and other fixed-income assets more attractive as an alternative to equities.
In other macroeconomic news, initial unemployment claims held steady last week coming in at 312,000, down from 314,000 the week before, and above estimates at 310,000. Jobless claims numbers continue to remain at post-recession lows, indicating further improvement in the labor market, as the four-week moving average for continuing unemployment claims reached its lowest point since November 2007, at 2.587 million. Personal spending rose less than expected in May, increasing 0.2% versus expectations of a 0.4% increase. The uptick was a result of higher prices and not increased consumption, and followed flat growth in April, causing some concern about the strength of the recovery. However, personal income rose 0.4% in May, matching estimates, in a more promising sign for the economy.
After hours today, Nike (NYSE:NKE) stock shot up 3% after the sneaker giant posted better-than-expected results in its fourth quarter. Revenue from continuing operations jumped 11%, or 13% on a constant currency basis, to $7.4 billion, topping estimates at $7.34 billion. World Cup-related promotions and new products helped juice sales of soccer gear as growth in soccer-mad Europe was particularly strong with sales climbing 18%. In North America, Nike's biggest region, sales improved 10%. On the bottom line, earnings per share increase just 3%, to $0.78, as the company spent heavily on marketing to take advantage of the World Cup, with expenses in that category growing 36%. Still, per-share profit estimates were $0.75. Future orders, a key metric, for the shoe maker, were up 11% in the quarter, jumping 25% in Europe, and Nike expected a strong first quarter due to "tremendous energy" around the World Cup with revenue growth in the low double digits. With its prominence in the World Cup, Nike again shows why it's consistently outperformed the market during the past 25 years, as its strong brand and global reach give it an outstanding position in the ever-growing sports apparel industry.
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Jeremy Bowman owns shares of Nike. The Motley Fool recommends Nike. The Motley Fool owns shares of Nike. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.