This week officially kicked off earnings season, after Alcoa Inc (NYSE:AA) released its reports following the closing bell on Monday. The earlier part of the week was light on economic data, but there was still no shortage of news. The big takeaway from the release of the Federal Reserve’s minutes on Wednesday was that members have begun talking about slowing its quantitative easing, though the program probably won’t end until the jobs market meaningfully improves. Thursday’s weekly report from the Labor Department showed a decline in jobless claims from two weeks ago, from 388,000 down to 346,000 claims. And Friday’s consumer-sentiment number was much lower than expected. Economists were expecting a reading of 78.5 from the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan data, following March’s reading of 78.6, but instead, the index fell to 72.3.
Despite ending the week on negative news, the markets as a whole rose higher this past week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 299.81 points, or 2.05%, and now sits at 14,865. The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) performed slightly better, as it rose 35 points, or 2.29%, while the NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) had the best five days, as it rose 2.84%.
Even though the Dow climbed nearly 300 points this past week, three of its components still managed to end lower.
But before we hit the Dow losers, let’s look at the big winner of the week. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) saw its shares climb by 5.39% over the past five trading sessions, with the bulk of the rise coming on Thursday, after the company announced that its palbociclib drug, which is an experimental treatment for early-stage breast cancer, received breakthrough-therapy designation from the FDA, meaning it will now be expedited through the remainder of the regulatory process. The drug is already in the later stages of official approval and testing, but this title should also help make it a more popular compound among the medical profession.
The big losers
Oil giant Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM)Mobil had a down week, losing 0.02%. On Wednesday, Morgan Stanley downgraded the stock from “equal weight” to “underweight” and reduced the price target from $90 per share to $85. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley said it sees fellow Dow component Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX) outperforming Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) by as much as 55% in the coming years and increased Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX)’s price target to $135 per share. It’s believed that Chevron will have better production growth and constantly improving returns, whereas the outlook for Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) isn’t quite as bright.