On Thursday, Starbucks Corp (O:SBUX) reported that traffic to its Americas-region stores had increased during the holiday quarter in 2014. As a result, the shares of the world’s biggest coffee chain advanced by 4.1%, or $3.36, to $86.10 in extended trade yesterday. During their report, Starbucks also announced that their director, Kevin Johnson, would become the company’s CEO and president from the 1st of March 2015. The current CEO, Troy Alstead, will be stepping down and taking some time to spend with his family. The report also showed that sales at Starbucks cafes that had been operating for over a year had increased by 5% in the Americas region while traffic was also up 2%, or 9 million additional customers; an advance from the previous quarter gain of 1 percent. The majority of the company’s revenue comes from the Starbucks Americas region and for the last 5 quarters, the company has reported lower earnings. On Thursday, the coffee giant also reported net income of $1.30 per share, or $983.1 million which was up from 71 cents per share or $540.7 million in the quarter a year earlier.
On Thursday, U.S. stocks recorded their best gains in the last 2 weeks. This came as investors responded positively to the move by the European Central Bank (ECB) to initiate a bond-buying program worth $69 billion, or 60 billion euros, a month from March. This move is intended to revive the deflating eurozone economy and is expected to continue until September 2016. Other data released in the U.S. yesterday, showed that there was a decline of 10,000 people in mid-January seeking new U.S. unemployment benefits. Despite this decrease, the level of applicants still remained above 300,000 for the 3rd-straight week. Analysts view this as a reflection of post-holiday layoffs. Meanwhile, according to the house price index released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, U.S. house prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.8% in November. At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) advanced 1.5 percent, or 259.70 points, to 17,813.98 while the Nasdaq Composite index (COMP) also increased by 1.8%, or 82.98 points, to 4,750.40. Following the upward trend was the S&P 500 index (SPX) which closed 1.5 percent higher at 2,063.15, turning the index positive for the year.
The U.S. dollar (USD) advanced to new highs against most major currencies on Thursday. This came in response to the large scale quantitative easing program introduced by the ECB while positive U.S. jobless claims data also boosted investor sentiment. After the announcement by ECB president Mario Draghi, the EUR/USD traded at 1.1447, down 1.41. The British pound also traded lower against the greenback with GBP/USD down 0.28 percent to 1.5102. This decline came after a report by the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) showed that its index of industrial orders expectations fell to four in January after a reading of five last month. Analysts were not expecting the index to change. Also, the Office for National Statistics said that the net borrowing in the public sector in the United Kingdom increased from £11.73 billion in November to £12.47 billion last month. Analysts were expecting net borrowing in the public sector to decline in December to 9.7 billion British pounds.
After the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, crude oil prices surged in Asian trading on Friday. His death has now prompted questions regarding if this key U.S. ally will continue to maintain the bond between the two countries particularly regarding oil policies and diplomacy. Meanwhile, data from the HSBC January manufacturing sector survey in China came in at 49.8, up from December’s final of 49.6. Data also showed that the flash output index for January ticked up from 49.9 in December to 50.1. Anything above 50 indicates expansion. As a result, crude oil for February delivery advanced to trade at $47.18 a barrel, up 1.88 percent, on the NYMEX. Also, on Thursday, Brent oil for delivery in March traded on the ICE Futures Exchange in London at $48.38 a barrel, down 66 cents.