U.S. stocks traded mixed on Wednesday, with the main indexes swinging between modest gains and losses, as investors awaited a fresh policy update from the Federal Reserve and parsed a parade of corporate results during the busiest week of quarterly results from American corporations.
How are stock benchmarks trading?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
traded 27 pointsmm or 0.1%, lower at 35,024, swinging in and out of positive territory.
The S&P 500 index
fell 3 points to 4,397, a decline of about 0.1%;
trades 44 points, or 0.3%, higher at 14,704.
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?
As stocks remain in reach of fresh all-time highs, investors are readying for an update from the Federal Reserve due at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, which will be followed by a news conference led by Chairman Jerome Powell a half-hour later.
Investors are hoping for clarity on when the central bank will begin tapering of 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.
Meanwhile, 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 2% 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 0.8%.
Humana Inc. HUM shares skidded 7% 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 flat.
How other assets are faring
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
was up 2 basis points at 1.26%. 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%.