Stock Market Struggles to Return to Record Territory
U.S. stocks put in a mixed performance Wednesday as investors focused on volatile oil prices, which stabilized after dropping to lowest levels in more than seven months.
Comments from Iran’s oil minister about the possibility of deepening production cuts appeared to help crude-oil futures.
Crude-oil prices, which entered bear-market territory after falling 20% on Tuesday, crept higher after Iran’s oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said members of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are considering further oil output cuts, but should wait to see the effect of the current reduced level of production.
The S&P 500 index SPX was up by 2 points, or 0.1%, 5o 2,439, with four of the 11 main sectors trading higher. Heath-care shares were leading gains, up 0.8%. But the energy sector was still trading lower.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA lost 8 points to 21,458, with half of the blue-chip stocks trading lower. Intel Corp INTC and Cisco Systems Inc CSCO were the top decliners, down 1.6% and 0.8% respectively.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index COMP was up 19 points, or 0.3%, to 6,207. Over the past two weeks, the Nasdaq has suffered sharp losses on concerns that high-value tech industry stocks are in a bubble.
Some analysts said that the bull market appears to be intact despite recent selloff in technology shares.
“Technology takes a breather for the first time in a while? That’s ok because other sectors are there to grab the bull by the horns,” Andrew Adams, market strategist at Raymond James, wrote in emailed notes.
Adams wrote that mild consolidation in the S&P 500 after it hit what could be significant resistance is a sign of strength.
“This kind of action is exactly what we want to see in a bull market and strengthens our belief that we are not approaching the end of it,” Adams wrote.
Oil blues: But crude oil CLQ7 traded slightly higher at $43.61 a barrel, while Brent LCOQ7 picked up 0.4% to $46.21.
At 10:30 a.m. Eastern, the weekly supply report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration is due. Investors are waiting to see if stockpiles will fall. The American Petroleum Institute said Tuesday that oil inventories declined last week, but that gasoline supplies continued to rise as U.S. refiners run at record levels.
Stocks to watch: Shares of Red Hat Inc. RHT jumped 10% in thin premarket trading after the open-source software company late Tuesday posted earnings ahead of forecasts.
Adobe Systems Inc. ADBE climbed 3.3% ahead of the bell. The software company late Tuesday beat Wall Street forecasts with record quarterly revenue.
La-Z-Boy Inc. LZB could also move, after rising more than 7% in Tuesday’s after-hours trading following better-than-expected earnings.
Shares of Advanced Micro Devices Inc. AMD picked up 2.1% after the chip maker on Tuesday launched a new generation of chips for the servers that drive computing in data centers, seen as a direct challenge to Intel Corp. INTC Intel shares lost 1.4%.
After the market closes on Wednesday, software giant Oracle Corp. ORCL will report quarterly results.
Technology shares overall reacted little to reports that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has stepped down from his post as chief executive officer of the privately held ride-hailing company.
Economic news: On Wednesday, the only top-tier economic update is a report on existing-home sales for May, due at 10 a.m. Eastern.
Other markets: Stocks in Asia closed mostly lower, but with the Shanghai Composite Index SHCOMP bucking the negative trend and rising 0.5%. The positive close in China came after MSCI Inc. late Tuesday said it would include some Chinese stocks in its emerging-markets index.
European stocks were mired in negative territory as energy stocks were hurt by oil’s slide and as France’s CAC index fell 0.8%. The pound GBPUSD dropped to a two-month in early trade, but jumped to $1.2683 after a Bank of England policy maker talked about withdrawal monetary stimulus.
Gold GCQ7 was up 0.1% at $1,244.50 an ounce, while the ICE Dollar Index DXY fell 0.2%, its first loss in three sessions.