Before the Bell: Amazon, Crypto; AMD, Sony and Honda in Las Vegas 

Premarket action on Thursday had the three major U.S. indexes trading higher. The Dow Jones industrials were up 0.06%, the S&P 500 up 0.19% and the Nasdaq 0.3% higher.

All 11 market sectors closed higher Wednesday, with real estate (2.28%) and materials (1.74%) up the most. Health care (0.25%) and technology (0.26%) posted the day’s smallest gains. The Dow closed up 0.4%, the S&P 500 up 0.75% and the Nasdaq up 0.69% on Wednesday.

Trading volume was sharply higher Wednesday, exceeding the five-day average by around 20%. New York Stock Exchange winners led losers by a margin of about 4 to 1, while Nasdaq advancers led decliners by more than 2 to 1. Bath & Body Works Inc.  (NASDAQ: BBWI) posted the day’s largest gain among S&P 500 stocks (10.5%), primarily on the strength of new analyst calls, and General Electric posted the biggest drop (−17.39%), following the first day of trading for GE HealthCare Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: GEHC). GE HealthCare replaced Vornado on the S&P 500 index on the day of its launch.

On the economic front, the latest manufacturing index reading from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) came in slightly lower than economists expected at 48.4%, down from November’s 49.0%. The release of the minutes of the Fed’s December meeting pared the day’s gains as investors and traders came to grips with this statement: “No participants anticipated that it would be appropriate to begin reducing the federal funds rate target in 2023.”

Before U.S. markets open Thursday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics will issue its weekly report on new claims for unemployment benefits. The consensus estimate calls for new claims of 225,000, flat with the prior week’s gain.

The Energy Information Administration’s weekly report on petroleum inventories is due after markets open. Last week, inventories rose by about 720,000 barrels. The American Petroleum Institute weekly inventory report released after markets closed Wednesday indicated an inventory build of nearly 3.3 million barrels.

The API also noted that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by just 13.11 million barrels in 2022, while the Strategic Petroleum Reserve fell by 221 million barrels. Next Friday, the Department of Energy will report the result of its bidding process to purchase 3 million barrels of crude to begin replenishing the SPR. Federal payments are set in a range of $67 to $72 a barrel. Crude oil closed at $72.84 on Wednesday and traded up about 2.3% at $74.50 in early action Thursday. Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) CEO Andy Jassy wrote in a blog post to employees Wednesday that the company plans to “eliminate” more than 18,000 jobs in 2023. The majority of the reductions, Jassy said, would come in the company’s retail stores and human resources division. Amazon’s move follows an announced cut of around 8,000 jobs at San Francisco-based Salesforce Inc. (NYSE: CRM). Amazon announced in November that it planned to fire around 10,000 people. Wednesday’s announcement raised the total to 18,000.

Crypto miner Marathon Digital Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: MARA) soared by more than 24% on Wednesday and traded another 5% higher in Thursday’s premarket. Marathon’s good fortune was due partly to the rising price of bitcoin and a settlement between Coinbase Global Inc. (NASDAQ: COIN) and a New York state regulator that resulted in Coinbase paying a $50 million fine but removing a regulatory overhang.

Silvergate Capital Corp. (NYSE: SI) added more than 27% to its share price on Wednesday. The company filed a court ruling with the Delaware bankruptcy court ordering the seizure of some $93 million in cash held by Silvergate for a unit of FTX.

Meanwhile in Las Vegas, Sony showed off a new electric vehicle it plans to produce in a joint venture with Honda Motor Corp. (NYSE: HMC). The cars will be sold under the brand name Afeela. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (NASDAQ: AMD) introduced a number of new chips, including the Instinct MI300, a chip specifically designed for artificial intelligence (AI) processing. AMD also introduced another AI chip, the Alveo V70 inference engine and a new Epyc server chip. Good times.

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