Stocks were trading modestly higher Wednesday as investors awaited the conclusion of a Federal Reserve policy meeting, watched talks on a coronavirus aid package in Congress, and continued to wade through a flood of blue-chip corporate earnings reports.
Market participants were also bracing for potential fireworks on Capitol Hill as top executives at the world’s most powerful technology firms testify in what’s likely to be a contentious hearing.
What are major benchmarks doing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
was up 13 points to 26,392. The blue-chip benchmark lagged other equity indexes after the S&P 500
rose 14 points, or 0.4%, to 3,232. The Nasdaq Composite
climbed 75 points, or 0.7%, to 10,477.
The Dow on Tuesday fell 205.49 points, or 0.8%, to close at 26,379.28, while the S&P 500 lost 20.91 points, or 0.7%, to finish at 3,218.44. The Nasdaq closed at 10,402.09, down 134.18 points, or 1.3%. Total composite volume on Tuesday was 9,334,655,074 shares, the lowest since Feb. 20, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
What’s driving the market?
Investors continue to pay close attention to negotiations between congressional Republicans, Democrats and the White House on another coronavirus rescue package ahead of the end-of-the-month expiration of supplemental unemployment benefits that have been credited with somewhat cushioning the economic blow from the pandemic.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration and Democrats remained far apart on the proposed fiscal stimulus bill.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, in a television interview Tuesday, said the Senate would not pass another coronavirus relief measure if it doesn’t include a liability shield for business. That underlines one area of conflict with Democrats, who are pushing for an OSHA standard for businesses to follow.
The Federal Reserve will conclude a two-day policy meeting later Wednesday, with a statement due at 2 p.m. Eastern followed by Chairman Jerome Powell’s news conference at 2:30 p.m. Economists and investors don’t expect any major tweaks to policy, but look for Powell to maintain a dovish tone, signaling the central bank is committed to maintaining monetary loose policy and is prepared to do more if needed to avert a further downturn.
“There has been a lot of chatter the Fed will reiterate the point that rates will stay ultralow for years to come,” said David Madden, market analyst at CMC UK. “The central bank has already been extremely aggressive with regards its stimulus packages, and there is a view they will do what it takes to cushion the blow of the health crisis.”
The tech industry’s most prominent chief executives are expected to face tough questions on business practices and accusation they have used their market power to thwart competition in a hearing before the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee. Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com Inc.
Sundar Pichai of Google parent Alphabet Inc.
Tim Cook of Apple Inc.
and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook Inc.
will appear before the panel.
The busiest week of earnings reporting season continues, with results rolling in ahead of the opening bell from a number of closely followed companies, including General Electric Co.
and plane-maker Boeing Co.
which is still reeling from the grounding of its 737 MAX aircraft and uncertainty about the future of flight in the wake of the pandemic.
In U.S. economic data, the trade deficit in goods dropped to $70.6 billion in June, a 6.1% decline in June from the previous month.
Which companies are in focus?
- General Electric shares were down 2.1% even after the diversified industrial conglomerate reported a wider-than-expected second-quarter loss but topped expectations for revenue and free cash flow.
- Shares of Boeing fell 0.9% after the aerospace and defense giant reported a much wider-than-expected loss, amid a big miss in commercial airplanes revenue.
- General Motors Co.
shares were down 0.5% after the car maker posted a smaller-than-expected loss for the second quarter and sales that topped estimates.
- Shares of Starbucks Corp.
rose 4.4% after the coffee chain late Tuesday reported a narrower-than-expected loss and better-than-expected sales in its fiscal third quarter. Starbucks estimated that it missed out on more than $3 billion in sales as the pandemic’s curtailed store traffic and said it would expand curbside pickups.
- Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
shares soared nearly 13% after the chip maker late Tuesday reported second-quarter earnings that topped expectations and boosted its full-year forecast.
- Shares of eBay Inc.
were down more than 3% after the e-commerce company delivered results Tuesday afternoon that were largely in line with Wall Street expectations.
How are other markets trading?
In Asia, China’s CSI 300 index
jumped 2.4%, the Shanghai Composite
rose 2.1%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index
gained 0.5% and Japan’s Nikkei 225
rose 0.5%, while the ICE U.S. Dollar Index
was off 0.2%.
Meanwhile, oil futures were higher, with the U.S. benchmark
up 0.9% on the New York Mercantile Exchange.