(MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks finished lower Wednesday, but remain within striking distance of record closing highs, aided by gains in large-cap information technology shares, including Tesla Inc. and Apple Inc. which were finding bids.
Nagging concerns about inflation and the economic recovery from COVID-19 have held markets in check, but a lack of alternatives and hope that consumers can continue to serve as a pillar of the economic rebound are supporting gains and a fitful rotation into sectors of the market.
- The Dow finished lower -179.08 or -0.58%
- The S&P 500 ended down -33.58 or -0.26%
- The Nasdaq closed lower -156.68 or -0.33%
A slight retreat in Treasury yields on Wednesday helped to cap declines for the broader market and lift large-cap technology stocks.
Investors, however, were struggling to justify pushing equities to new heights after the Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 ended Tuesday’s session within a stone’s throw of all-time highs and the Dow industrials hovered 1% from its closing record.
The S&P 500’s energy sector closed down 1.7% Wednesday, weighing on the index, after President Joe Biden asked Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to immediately “consider whether illegal conduct is costing families at the pump,” in a letter. Biden also said there’s “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies.”
U.S. crude prices retreated to below $80 a barrel, pressured by Biden’s efforts to ease prices at the pump, including reports that the U.S. and Chinese leader Xi Jinping discussed a joint release of crude supplies, in a virtual meeting.
Still, market participants were focused on the spending power of U.S. consumer heading into the holidays, following Tuesday’s better-than-expected October retail sales data and a batch of third-quarter corporate earnings. Data showed retail sales jumped 1.7%, beyond forecasts for a 1.5% rise and the biggest gain since March when households received billions in federal stimulus money.
Shares of Walmart rival Target fell Wednesday, even as the retailer beat quarterly earnings forecasts and lifted its forecasts, but warned about rising costs hurting margins.
Shares of Lowe’s rose 0.4% Wednesday, after the home improvement retailer reported fiscal third-quarter profit and revenue that beat expectations, a surprise increase in same-store sales, and raised its full-year outlook.
Visa fell sharply after Amazon said it would stop accepting payments made by its credit cards issued in the U.K. starting next year due to high commissions.
- Tesla climbed 3.3% after last week’s slide, when CEO Elon Musk began to sell some stock.
- Rivian Automotive Inc. stock fell 15.1%, its first stumble since it took Wall Street by storm last week with its initial public offering.
- Boeing Co. shares finished 0.4% higher after receiving the equivalent of a “buy,” from Wells Fargo, which sees “a positive risk/reward balance with the stock lagging the S&P 500 by (about) 30% since its March high.”
- Shares of Roku Inc. tumbled 11.3% Wednesday after an analyst downgraded the stock and suggested that investors have misinterpreted the company’s story as of late.
- Moderna Inc. MRNA, +4.02% said Wednesday it has applied for authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine in Canada for children aged 6 to 11.
- Biogen Inc. shares BIIB fell 1.2% Wednesday, after the company said it had received a “negative trend vote” from an advisory committee to the European Medicines Agency for its Alzheimer’s disease treatment aducanumab.
- Visa Inc.’s stock V dove 4.7% after Amazon.com Inc. AMZN said it would stop accepting Visa credit cards issued in the U.K. next year.
- Pfizer Inc. PFE shares rose 2.6% Wednesday after it said it’s launching a search for a new chief financial officer because its current CFO Frank D’Amelio will retire.
- Alcoa Corp. AA shares fell 0.6% Wednesday after it announced that it bought group annuity contracts that will help transfer $1 billion in pension obligations for defined-benefit pension plans for certain retirees and beneficiaries in the U.S.
- Gold futures rose, posting the highest finish since June, with the December contract up 0.9% to settle at $1,870.20 an ounce.
- U.S. oil futures tumbled 3%, settling at $78.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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