Stock market today: Wall Street quiet after breaking more records; another bank reports trouble

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Markets on Wall Street were quietly mixed early Friday after wrapping up their fourth straight winning month and hitting record highs the day before.

Futures for the S&P 500 were essentially flat but moving higher before the bell, while futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped less than 0.1%.

With no economic data incoming and no major companies reporting earnings, markets turned their attention to more troubling news from the banking sector.

Shares of New York Community Bancorp plunged 18% after the abrupt ouster of the longtime CEO of the bank, which delayed mandatory financial disclosures after finding “material weakness” tied to loans. The bank also reported a surprise loss of $252 million for the fourth quarter, including a provision for credit losses of $552 million, much of it tied to real estate.

Late Thursday NYCB said that Thomas R. Cangemi was stepping down as president and CEO after 27 years with the company. He’s being succeeded in those roles by Alessandro DiNello, who also serves as executive chairman.

NYCB’s troubles come almost exactly one year after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank and First Republic Bank last March, which briefly rattled markets last spring.

On the positive side, shares of Dell jumped 26% before the bell after the computer hardware maker beat Wall Street’s fourth-quarter sales and profit expectations and highlighted demand for its AI-optimized servers. Texas-based Dell also announced that it would contribute its AI advances and data storage prowess in a collaboration with carmaker Subaru to improve its driver assist technology.

Elsewhere, at midday in Europe, Germany’s DAX added 0.5%, the CAC 40 in Paris ticked up less than 0.1% and London’s FTSE 100 rose 0.6%.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.9% and ended at 39,940,00. In late February, the index passed the record of 38,915.87 it set at the heights of financial euphoria in 1989, before a financial bubble burst and ushered in an era of faltering growth.

Japan’s unemployment rate dropped to 2.4% in January, from a revised 2.5% recorded in the previous month, but the purchasing managers index for manufacturing activity fell to 47.2 in February, showing depressed demand in domestic and international markets.

A PMI reading under 50 represents a contraction compared to the previous month.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.5% to 16,589.44, and the Shanghai Composite index added 0.4% to 3,027.02.

China’s manufacturing activity contracted for the fifth consecutive month in February with a reading of 49.1, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, while the unofficial Caixin PMI provided a more positive outlook, showing the manufacturing sector expanded for a fourth consecutive month.

Investors are anticipating policies to revitalize the economy at China’s upcoming National People’s Congress next week, during which Beijing will announce the annual GDP growth target.

Korea’s market is closed for a holiday.

Elsewhere in Asia, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.6% to 7,745.60, while in Bangkok the SET was up 0.1%.

In the bond market, yields eased after a closely followed inflation report showed prices across the country rose pretty much as expected last month. That calmed worries that had built on Wall Street that the inflation data could show a discomforting reacceleration.

Thursday’s report kept intact hopes that the Federal Reserve may begin cutting interest rates in June. Such a move would relax the pressure on the economy and boost investment prices, and the Fed has indicated several cuts may be coming this year.

The Fed’s main interest rate is sitting at its highest level since 2001.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil added $1.39 to reach $79.65 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the international standard, gained $1.38 to $83.29 per barrel.

The dollar rose to 150.58 Japanese yen from 149.98 yen. The euro was up to $1.0815, from $1.0803.

In Wall Street Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 0.5% to 5,096.27 to top a record set last week. The Nasdaq composite led the market with a gain of 0.9%, to 38,996.39 and surpassed its all-time high, set in 2021. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished just below its record set last week after rising 0.1%, to 38,996.39.

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