U.S. STOCK MARKETS, BONDS
Investors pared most of their losses in late trading, but still handed the Dow Jones Industrial Average its fifth straight loss after the minutes of the Federal Reserve's June policy meeting showed few signs that central bankers were moving towards further action.
Copper In Beijing's Hands
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 48.59 points, or 0.38%, at 12604.53, after falling as many as 119 points in intraday trading.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index finished virtually unchanged, slipping 0.02 point, or 0.00%, to 1341.45, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 14.35 points, or 0.49%, to 2887.98.
For the Dow, the five-session slide is its longest such run since a six-session run of losses in May. The S&P 500 is also on a five-session losing streak.
The stock market meandered in negative territory for much of the day, and moved sharply lower in the minutes after the release of the Fed's June meeting minutes, which showed the rate-setting committee split over the merits of further monetary easing.
Some investors had been looking for clues that the Fed was leaning towards more easing, particularly after central bankers in Europe and China moved last week to cut interest rates.
Leading the stock declines were industrial and technology stocks. Boeing, United Technologies, Microsoft and Travelers were the biggest drags on the blue-chip Dow.
Offsetting those losses were gains in energy stocks as oil prices bounced back. Chevron gained 0.9% and Exxon Mobil added 1.5%, placing both oil giants among the Dow's best performers.
In economic news, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed in May for a second straight month to $48.7 billion, in line with expectations and lower than April's upwardly revised reading of $50.6 billion.
The deficit narrowed as exports picked up and falling oil prices helped to drive down imports. Separately, a report on wholesale inventories for May showed a rise of 0.3%.
Shares of Adtran fell 15% after the networking and communications-equipment company missed analysts' earnings and revenue expectations. HHGregg plunged 36% after the appliance and electronics retailer provided a fiscal first-quarter loss outlook that was wider than current analyst projections, citing lower-than-expected revenue, primarily in the video category.
EUROPEAN STOCKS, BONDS
European stocks struggled for direction in Wednesday trade, as retailers dropped after Burberry Group PLC reported slower sales growth, while Spanish stocks rallied and pressure eased on the country's borrowing costs after a new round of austerity measures.
The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed down just 0.01 point, or less than 0.1%, at 255.59, after swinging between small gains and losses for most of the session.
Among notable decliners, luxury-goods retailer Burberry Group PLC fell 7.4% after reporting a slowdown in first-quarter revenue growth amid challenging economic conditions.
Spain's IBEX 35 index outperformed other country-specific indexes, advancing 1.2% to 6,805.90, as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced 65 billion euros ($79 billion) in new austerity measures to meet new budget-deficit targets.
Yields on 10-year Spanish government bonds fell 27 basis points to 6.53%, according to the electronic trading platform Tradeweb.
Additionally, a Wall Street Journal report indicated Spain will likely have to hand over control of its banks to Europe in return for a bailout of the banking sector, according to a draft agreement of the bank bailout agreement.
Spain's BBVA SA rose 2.3%, after Nomura upgraded the bank to buy from reduce. Banco Santander SA was also higher, up 1.7%. Investors awaited minutes from the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee's policy meeting in June.
In the U.K., the FTSE 100 index closed marginally higher at 5,664.48, as oil firms climbed alongside rising oil prices. BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC both advanced 1%.
French luxury-goods retailers LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton and PPR SA, the owner of Gucci, tracked losses for rival Burberry, slipping 3.2% and 3.5%, respectively.
The losses added pressure on the CAC 40 index, which slid 0.6% to 3,157.25, but major banks kept the index from further losses. BNP Paribas SA rose 1.5% and Credit Agricole SA gained 1.6%.
Among German stocks, sporting-gear retailer Adidas AG posted one of the biggest losses in the benchmark index, skidding 1.7%. The DAX 30 index, however, closed 0.2% higher at 6,453.85, as utility firms rose. RWE AG climbed 1.6% and E.ON AG rose 2.1%.
ASIA-PACIFIC STOCK MARKETS
Most markets ended little changed Wednesday, paring earlier losses, as investors digested poor earnings from the U.S. and fears about Italian debt.
A gloomy outlook for U.S. companies had a knock-on effect in Japan, even though the benchmark Nikkei only finished 0.1% lower at 8851.00.
Advanced Micro Devices tumbled 11% Tuesday in the U.S. after the semiconductor company cut its second quarter revenue outlook, pushing down Japanese companies that make semiconductor silicon wafers.
Sumco Corp. fell 1.3%, and Dainippon Screen Manufacturing lost 1.1%. Manufacturers of construction machinery in Japan fell as U.S. rival Caterpillar dropped 3.5% overnight.
Komatsu dropped 0.9% and Hitachi Construction Machinery sank 1%. Europe also returned to the forefront of investor concerns, as Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said that Italy could ask euro-zone governments to permit the region's bailout fund to buy Italian bonds.
In China, stocks made modest gains, with the Shanghai Composite up 0.5% to 2175.38. Construction stocks contributed to the rise, after Premier Wen Jiabao made comments late Tuesday that the primary role of the government is to promote investment, which investors took as hinting towards further infrastructure spending.
Sany Heavy Industry climbed 2% and Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Development was 3.5% higher. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.2% at 1826.39 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged 0.1% higher to 19419.87.
There was caution ahead of forthcoming growth data which will be used to gauge the speed of China's economic slowdown. Investors were also looking ahead to the release of the minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee mid-June meeting.
In company news, China Southern Airlines climbed 1.7% in Hong Kong despite a warning it expects to post a more than 50% decline in profits for the first half of 2012, due to weaker demand and higher jet-fuel prices.
In Hong Kong, the most heavily traded stock and the worst performing stock was China Construction Bank, which dropped 3% after concerns over credit quality rose after a report by Caixin magazine Monday reported that the bank lent 3 billion yuan ($472 million) to Hangzhou-based Zhejiang Zhongjiang before it filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. Compiled from MORRISON SECURITIES PTY. LTD.
Base metals closed mixed on the London Metal Exchange Wednesday, with the complex treading water ahead of key economic data from China later in the week and the Federal Open Market Committee's latest meeting minutes.
At the close, flagship three-month copper was 0.7% higher on the day at $7,539 a metric ton. Lead was down 0.3% at $1,867.50/ton.
Nymex crude futures Wednesday overlooked bearish elements in a U.S. oil inventory report and the lack of concrete news on Federal Reserve stimulus to finish the day firmly in positive territory.
Light, sweet crude for August delivery settled at $85.81 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up $1.90 or 2.3%. Front-month Brent crude gained $2.26 per barrel to close at $100.23. Nymex crude traded in the green throughout the day Wednesday, but there were several lurches up and down during the session.
The commodity initially gave up gains following the U.S. oil inventory report, but rallied soon after. Oil similarly fell after the U.S. Federal Reserve minutes were released, but then closed the day impressively.
Gold declined further after the close of floor trading as investors saw little indication in the newly released Federal Reserve minutes that further monetary easing is on the horizon.
The most actively traded gold contract, for August delivery, was down 0.8%, or $12.30, at $1,567.50 per troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. The yellow metal had settled down 0.3%, or $4.10, at $1,575.70 earlier in the day.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- 'Game of Thrones'-like Film, 'The Queen of the Tearling,' Casts Emma Watson as Lead Star and Exec Producer [PHOTOS]
- 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Movie Casting: Selena Gomez Open to Nude Role, Ready for Anastasia Steele? [PHOTOS]
- Asus Transformer Infinity Pad, Sony Vaio Duo, Toshiba Satellite, A Look at Intel's Haswell 4th Generation Ultrabooks and Notebooks [Photos]
- 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Movie Casting: Anderson Davis as Christian Grey [PHOTOS]