Stocks tick higher as Biden executive orders roll in

U.S. equity markets were modestly higher Thursday morning after President Biden signed a series of executive orders in the first hours of his presidency.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 34 points, or 0.11%, in the opening minutes of trading while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were higher by 0.1% and 0.4%, respectively. All three of the major averages finished in record territory on Wednesday.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DHI n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
SP500 S&P 500 3860.01 +8.16 +0.21%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 13516.162446 +58.91 +0.44%

Biden’s orders included extending a freeze on student loan payments and the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums for those impacted by COVID-19. Other measures including canceling the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, re-entering the Paris climate agreement and stopping construction of the southern border wall, among other things.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
UAL UNITED AIRLINES HLDG. 42.63 -2.55 -5.64%

Looking at stocks, United Airlines Holdings reported a fourth straight quarterly loss in the three months through December as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to snarl demand for air travel. The Chicago-based airline lost $7.1 billion in 2020, but said that while the next few quarters will be difficult, it foresees a return of travel and cost-cutting resulting in its 2019 profit margins being exceeded by 2023.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BKS n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.

Baker Hughes Co. missed on revenue but beat on earnings and said it expects the energy market to bottom by the middle of this year.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AAPL APPLE INC. 135.71 +3.68 +2.79%

Elsewhere, the price target on Apple Inc. shares was raised to $152 from $144 at Morgan Stanley, which is anticipating record quarterly earnings and revenue from its upcoming report.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
TSLA TESLA INC. 844.41 -6.04 -0.71%

Tesla Inc. vehicle registrations in the state of California spiked 63% year over year in the fourth quarter, according to data from the research firm Cross-Sell. The increase in registrations was bolstered by demand for the Model Y crossover vehicle.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
GM GENERAL MOTORS COMPANY 56.55 +0.70 +1.25%

In other auto news, General Motors is riding towards its sixth record this month as investor optimism rises following a flurry of strategy moves this month.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude fell 33 cents to $52.98 per barrel and gold slid $2.10 to $1,864.40 an ounce.

European markets were mixed after the European Central Bank kept policy on hold with France’s CAC 40 falling 0.34% and Germany’s DAX 30 advancing 0.11%. Britain’s FTSE 100 was higher by 0.06%.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.12% while Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.82% and China’s Shanghai index gained 1.07%.