Retail Sales in the U.S. rose for the third straight month, showing that the economy remains on solid, if not spectacular, footing. Wall Street traders yawned at the data, however, and the market was largely unchanged.
The Dow traded lower on the session, closing below the 14,000 level while the S&P and Nasdaq Composite recorded small gains. Overall, the investing atmosphere remains relatively quiet, which has led to an upwardly sloping market and low levels of volatility.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 36 points, or 0.26 percent, to 13,983.
The S&P 500 added a little less than a point, or 0.06 percent, to 1,520.
The Nasdaq Composite closed the day with a gain of roughly 10 points, or 0.33 percent, to 3,197.
Retail sales were in line with estimates for January with sales rising 0.1 percent versus a 0.5 percent increase for December.
Excluding autos, retail sales were up 0.2 percent in January versus a 0.3 percent gain in December. This was above consensus which called for growth of 0.1 percent.
Business inventories rose 0.1 percent in December after increasing 0.2 percent in November. This was below consensus estimates calling for an increase to 0.3 percent.
Crude oil was mixed on Wednesday's session. NYMEX crude futures, which track U.S. WTI benchmark crude, fell 0.45 percent to $97.08. Brent contracts were last trading up 0.13 percent to $118.72. Natural gas futures climbed better than 2 percent on the day to $3.30.
Precious metals were down moderately at last check. COMEX gold futures had shed 0.40 percent to $1,643 at last check and silver was down by around 0.64 percent to $30.82. Copper was down a little more than 0.10 percent.
In the agricultural complex, corn was slightly lower while wheat was up around 0.50 percent. Orange juice concentrate futures added to a rally on Tuesday, and were last up 1.37 percent. Coffee and cotton fell a little over 1 percent on the day.
U.S. Treasury prices fell sharply on Wednesday. Late in the day, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE: TLT) was down 0.80 percent to $115.81.
The fall in prices pushed yields higher. The 2-Year yield rose one basis point to 0.27 percent. The 5, 10, and 30-Year Treasury yields were all up 4 basis points.
The U.S. dollar was flat on the day with the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE: UUP) unchanged late in the day. The security tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies.
The EUR/USD was trading close to flat at the close of equity trading at $1.3449. The USD/JPY was also near unchanged after falling on Tuesday. The only significant mover on the day was the GBP/USD which fell around 0.90 percent.
Volatility and Volume
The VIX rose on Wednesday despite a largely flat trading session. The VIX closed 3.80 percent higher at 13.12, near the day's highs.
Volume remained very light on Wednesday but was above the first two days of the trading week. Around 71 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY) shares traded hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 133 million.
Trulia (NYSE: TRLA), which operates a real estate search engine company, surged 26 percent on the day after bullish Q4 earnings results.
Hosting company Rackspace (NYSE: RAX) saw its share price plunge almost 20 percent after disappointing Q4 results.
Cliffs Natural (NYSE: CLF) fell 20 percent after missing Q4 revenue estimates, cutting its dividend and announcing a share offering.
Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ: BWLD) shed more than 5 percent after its fourth-quarter results missed Wall Street consensus estimates.
Proto Labs (NYSE: PRLB) climbed more than 25 percent after blowout Q4 results.
Bankrate (NYSE: RATE) plunged almost 16 percent after its fourth-quarter results came in below expectations.
EZchip Semiconductor (NASDAQ: EZCH) actually gapped higher at the open after its Q4 earnings report, but subsequently plunged throughout the day, closing down more than 20 percent.
WellCare Health Plans (NYSE: WCG) climbed almost 11 percent despite a lower Q4 profit and full-year 2013 earnings per share guidance that was below expectations.
Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ: CZR) plunged more than 9 percent on Wednesday as traders took profits after a big run-up in the share price last week.
Dean Foods (NYSE: DF) fell more than 9 percent despite swinging to a profit for the fourth-quarter.
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