U.S. stocks were mixed Wednesday at midday, but near record territory, as investors await a Federal Reserve policy update and parse earnings in the busiest week of quarterly results from American corporations.
How are stock benchmarks trading?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
traded 100 points lower, or 0.3%, at 34,954, after swinging in and out of positive territory.
The S&P 500 index
fell 2 points to 4,399, lower by about 0.1%.
rose 78 points, or 0.5%, at 14,738.
On Tuesday, the Dow fell 85.79 points, or 0.2%, to 35,058.52. The The S&P 500 declined 20.84 points, or 0.5%, to 4,401.46 to snap a five-session winning run. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 180.14 points, or 1.2%, to 14,660.58, its largest one day fall since May 12.
What’s driving the market?
Stocks struggled for direction as investors waited on the Federal Reserve to provide a policy update at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, with a news conference led by Chairman Jerome Powell to follow a half-hour later.
Investors are hoping for clarity on when the central bank will begin tapering its monthly bond purchases, though economists say that may not be forthcoming.
“If we hear today about more talking about tapering but without specificity, if we hear the word ‘transitory’ a lot, if we hear the word ‘patient’ often, and if we hear about delta throughout the press conference, I would expect a steepening of the yield curve again because bondholders don’t want to hear this in the face of the inflation reality,” wrote Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, in a Wednesday note.
Investors were bullish on the strength of second-quarter earnings reported thus far, with the earnings growth rate in the April through the end of June up nearly 80%, led by a 168% rate for the financial sector, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
In Asia, the selloff in technology stocks in Hong Kong and China abated on Wednesday, as the Hang Seng
closed 1.5% higher after consecutive drops of at least 4% resulting from unexpected regulatory actions by the Chinese government.
On the public health front, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday recommended that Americans — even those who are fully vaccinated — in parts of the country with “substantial or high” rates of COVID-19 go back to wearing masks in public indoor spaces as the delta variant of the coronavirus results in rising cases of COVID.
On the data front, the U.S. trade deficit in goods rose 3.5% in June to record $91.2 billion, and advanced U.S. wholesale inventories climbed 0.8%, while retail inventories increased by 0.3% last month.
Which companies are in focus?
Pfizer Inc. PFE shares rose 3.4% after the company said Wednesday that a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine likely provides further protection against the delta variant, which is more infectious and thought to be driving the recent surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the U.S.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. BMY said Wednesday it swung to a profit of $1.055 billion, or 47 cents a share, in the second quarter, after a loss of $85 million, or 4 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Shares were up 1.7%.
Humana Inc. HUM shares skidded 6.8% lower after it reported second-quarter profit and revenue that beat expectations, but maintained its full-year adjusted earnings outlook, while saying it expects to record a $1 billion gain in the current quarter on its ownership of Kindred at Home.
Tapestry Inc. TPR said Wednesday that it will raise wages for all U.S. employees to at least $15 per hour, effective Sept. 5. Its shares were 1.9% lower.
Shares of Canadian cannabis company Tilray Inc. TLRY jumped 25% in trade Wednesday, after it swung to a profit in its fiscal fourth quarter.
How other assets are faring
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
was up 1 basis points at 1.25%. Yields and debt prices move in opposite directions.
The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.1%.
Barbara Kollmeyer contributed reporting