Stocks fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Wednesday before eventually ending the session mixed. Despite the choppy trading, the Dow ended the session at a new record closing high.
The major averages finished the day on opposite sides of the unchanged line. While the Nasdaq fell 51.08 points or 0.4 percent to 13,582.43, the Dow rose 97.31 points or 0.3 percent to 34,230.34 and the S&P 500 inched up 2.93 points or 0.1 percent to 4,167.59.
The continued upward move by the Dow came after the blue chip index bucked the downtrend seen during trading on Tuesday to close modestly higher.
Strong gains by Dow Inc. (DOW), Chevron (CVX) and Merck (MRK) helped lift the Dow to a new record closing high.
Overall buying interest was somewhat subdued, however, as the latest U.S. economic pointed to continued strength in the economy but came in below economist estimates.
Before the start of trading, payroll processor ADP released a report showing private sector job growth accelerated in the month of April but still came in below expectations.
ADP said private sector employment spiked by 742,000 jobs in April after surging by an upwardly revised 565,000 jobs in March.
However, economists had expected private sector employment to soar by 800,000 jobs compared to the jump of 517,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
The Institute for Supply Management also released a report showing an unexpected slowdown in the pace of growth in U.S. service sector activity in the month of April.
The ISM said its services PMI edged down to 62.7 in April after jumping to an all-time high of 63.7 in March. A reading above 50 still indicates growth in the service sector, but economists had expected the index to inch up to 64.3.
The unexpected drop by the services index comes after the ISM released a separate report earlier this week showing an unexpected slowdown in the pace of growth in U.S. manufacturing activity.
Energy stocks showed a substantial move to the upside on the day despite a modest decrease by the price of crude oil. Crude for June delivery edged down $0.06 to $65.63 a barrel even though a report showed a much bigger than expected weekly decline in crude oil inventories.
Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index skyrocketed by 5.4 percent and the NYSE Arca Oil Index soared by 3.5 percent.
Considerable strength was also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 1.7 percent gain posted by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index ended the session at its best closing level in nearly ten years.
Brokerage, natural gas and airline stocks also saw significant strength, while interest rate-sensitive utilities and commercial real estate stocks showed notable moves to the downside.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday, with several major markets closed for holidays. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell by 0.5 percent, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose by 0.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets all showed strong moves to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index surged up by 2.1 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 1.7 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries bounced back near the unchanged line after seeing initial weakness. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, edged down by less than a basis point to 1.584 percent.
Trading activity on Thursday may be somewhat subdued ahead of the release of the closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday, although traders are still likely to keep an eye on a report on weekly jobless claims.
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