Stocks moved mostly lower in morning trading on Wednesday but regained some ground in the afternoon before ending the day mixed. The release of the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting contributed to some late-day volatility.
The major averages ended the session on opposite sides of the unchanged line, with the Dow posting a modest loss. While the Dow fell 30.82 points or 0.2 percent to 13,172.76, the Nasdaq rose 6.41 points or 0.2 percent to 3,073.67 and the S&P 500 edged up 0.32 points or less than 0.1 percent to 1,413.49.
The early weakness on Wall Street was partly due to some troubling economic news from overseas, with a report from Japan showing that the country swung to a trade deficit in July.
The report from the Japanese Finance Ministry showed a trade deficit of 517.4 billion yen in July compared to a trade surplus of 60.3 billion yen in June. Japanese exports fell 8.1 percent year-over-year, while imports rose 2.1 percent.
A negative reaction to quarterly results from Dell (DELL) also weighed on the markets, with the PC giant falling by 5.4 percent.
After the close of trading on Tuesday, Dell reported second quarter adjusted earnings that exceeded analyst estimates but on weaker than expected sales.
The company also lowered its full year earnings outlook and forecast a 2 to 5 percent sequential drop in third quarter revenues.
Selling pressure was relatively subdued, however, with an upbeat report on existing home sales helping to limit the downside for the markets.
The report from the National Association of Realtors said existing home sales rose 2.3 percent to an annual rate of 4.47 million in July from 4.37 million in June.
Stocks subsequently regained some ground following the release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting, which suggested that the central bank is losing patience with the pace of the fragile U.S. economic recovery
Many members of the Federal Reserve said additional monetary policy accommodation is likely warranted unless the economy improves substantially, potentially opening the door for another round of quantitative easing measures at the next meeting in September.
Meanwhile, shares of Sunrise Senior Living (SRZ) moved sharply higher after the senior living services provider agreed to be acquired by Health Care REIT (HCN) for about $845 million in cash.
The deal values Sunrise Senior Living at $14.50 per share, representing a 62.4 percent premium to its closing price on Tuesday. Shares of Sunrise jumped nearly 60 percent on the news.
Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, contributing to the lackluster close by the broader markets.
Nonetheless, gold stocks showed a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index up by 2.2 percent. The strength among gold stocks came as the price of the precious metal ended the session lower but moved higher in electronic trading.
Housing stocks also saw considerable strength on the heels of the existing home sales report, with the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index advancing by 2 percent. Toll Brothers (TOL) posted a strong gain after reporting fiscal third quarter earnings and revenues that exceeded analyst estimates.
While significant strength was also visible among health insurance stocks, telecom, tobacco, and defense stocks posted notable losses on the day.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index ended the day down by 0.3 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell by 1.1 percent.
The major European markets also showed notable moves to the downside on the day. While the German DAX Index dropped by 1 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index tumbled by 1.4 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.
In the bond market, treasuries showed a strong upward move after closing nearly flat in the two previous sessions. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, fell by 8.6 basis points to 1.719 percent.
Key U.S. economic data may attract some attention on Thursday, with traders likely to keep an eye on reports on weekly jobless claims and new home sales.
Trading could also be impacted by reaction to quarterly results from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which is releasing its fiscal third quarter results after the close of today's trading.
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: email@example.com