Dow struggles for direction, S&P 500 sees Wednesday’s earlier gains dwindle in afternoon trading


U.S. stock indexes slipped from session highs Wednesday afternoon, although the S&P 500 was still on track for its fourth consecutive all-time high after a batch of well-received earnings reports.

How stock indexes are trading

  • The S&P 500
    was up 12 points, or 0.3%, at 4,878.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average
    fell 30 points, or 0.1%, to 37,881. It was up more than 100 points earlier in the day.

  • The Nasdaq Composite
    was up 81 points, or 0.5%, at 15,511.

On Tuesday, the Dow industrials fell 0.3% to 37,905.45, the S&P 500 increased 0.3% to a record close of 4,864.60 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.4% to 15,425.94.

What’s driving markets

Stocks slipped in afternoon trade after beginning the day with technology stocks leading Wall Street higher. Netflix
 jumped 12% after strong results from the streaming giant, which got the technology-sector earnings season off to a good start. Meanwhile, Nvidia Corp.
 rose 4.3% on its way to another all-time high.

Earnings reports remain a focus of traders, with tech heavyweights Tesla
 and Lam Research
 due to report results after the closing bell on Wednesday.

Sentiment wavered during afternoon trading, with some analysts saying that strong U.S. economic data released earlier Wednesday is weighing on investors’ expectations for multiple interest-rate cuts this year by the Federal Reserve.

The S&P flash U.S. services PMI climbed to a seven-month high of 52.9 in January from 51.4 in the prior month, while the flash U.S. manufacturing PMI jumped to a 15-month high of 50.3 this month from 48.2 in December.

“The S&P PMIs were quite strong and are feeding into the market’s realization that rate cuts are not going to come as soon as March and that interest rates are not going to fall as much as markets were pricing in,” macro strategist Will Compernolle of FHN Financial in New York said via phone.

Nonetheless, broader support for the market came from Treasurys, with the 10-year yield BX:TMUBMUSD10Y slightly higher at 4.18% as of Wednesday afternoon.

The benchmark rate appears to have found equilibrium following a roller-coaster ride in recent months, suggesting that investors have become more relaxed about inflation, economic growth, and the market’s pricing of the Federal Reserve’s policy trajectory.

“We are in a bit of a FOMO, or fear-of-missing-out, environment,” said Mark Neuman, founder of Atlanta-based Constrained Capital and creator of the ESG Orphans Index, which tracks stocks with $3 trillion in combined market capitalization. “People are excited about the technology sector, and the returns on the share prices of the Magnificent Seven are suggesting that’s the right trade. Now other people are fearing they are going to miss the next leg up.”

Risk appetite was also boosted after China’s central bank ramped up stimulus by cutting the amount of liquidity that banks are required to hold as reserves, which will provide around $139 billion in long-term capital to the market. The move sparked a second day of sharp gains for the Shanghai Composite Index
after its worst daily drop since April 2022 on Monday.

Companies in focus

  • Shares of AT&T Inc.  
    dropped 2.9% on Wednesday, even though the telecom company reported $16.8 billion in free cash flow for last year, above its prior increased forecast of roughly $16.5 billion.

  • Abbott Laboratories’ stock
     fell 2.7% as COVID-test sales continued to plunge, although the healthcare-products company reported fourth-quarter sales that topped expectations.

  • Shares of DuPont de Nemours Inc. 
     tumbled 13% and appeared to be headed toward its worst day in almost four years after the materials-science company issued a profit warning, with weaker demand seen at the end of 2023 expected to continue.

Jamie Chisholm contributed.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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