Stocks Barely Move as Tech Companies Dip; Oil Prices Climb
With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, U.S. stocks are little changed Wednesday after they finished at all-time highs the day before. Technology companies are taking losses as the two former halves of Hewlett-Packard tumble, and banks are down as interest rates slip. Oil prices jumped on reports OPEC might extend its cuts in production.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dipped 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,597 as of 3:10 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 599 points, or 0.3 percent, to 23,531. The Nasdaq composite rose 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,867. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks held steady at 1,519, and most of the companies on the New York Stock Exchange traded higher.
All four major indexes closed at record highs Tuesday, led by gains for technology and health care companies. U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and trading will end early on Friday.
HP HICCUP: The two main companies that once comprised Hewlett-Packard took the largest losses in the S&P 500. Hewlett Packard Enterprise dropped after it said Meg Whitman will retire as CEO on Feb 1. President Antonio Neri will replace her. Whitman became CEO of Hewlett-Packard in 2011 and oversaw its split in 2015. The company also reported mixed fourth-quarter results.
Analysts said they were surprised by the timing because Whitman suggested last month that she wasn’t leaving soon. Like several other analysts, Steven Milunovich of UBS said Neri is a good choice, but that Whitman will be hard to replace.
“Whitman’s star power could be missed when competing with the likes of Michael Dell, Chuck Robbins, and Ginni Rometty for large enterprise deals,” he said, referring to the CEOs of Dell, Cisco Systems and IBM.
HP Enterprise fell 99 cents, or 7 percent, to $13.13. Meanwhile HP Inc., which sells PCs and printers, had a solid quarter but couldn’t sustain the gains it’s made this year. The stock lost $1.31, or 5.8 percent, to $21.15. It’s up more than 40 percent in 2017.
THE FED: Interest rates dipped after the Federal Reserve release minutes from its latest meeting, which ended Nov. 1. While most officials were comfortable raising interest rates soon, a few Fed leaders wanted to wait until there is more evidence inflation is rising.
Most experts expect the Fed to raise rates in December, which would be the third increase this year. The Fed says it’s aiming to raise rates three more times next year.
“The market certainly doesn’t believe it, and hasn’t believed it all along,” says Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute. He said investors may change their minds as economic reports roll in over the next few weeks, and they may get nervous if they think the Fed will move faster.
Bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.32 percent from 2.36 percent.
ENERGY: Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil exporter in the world, wants the OPEC cartel to extend this year’s cut in oil production for another nine months. The nations of OPEC, as well as other major oil producers including Russia, will meet in Vienna next week to discuss their goals. U.S. crude rose $1.19, or 2.1 percent, to $58.02 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 75 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $63.32 a barrel in London. Both oil benchmarks are at two-year highs.
GREENER PASTURES: Farm equipment maker Deere posted a bigger profit and better sales than analysts expected, and it also gave surprisingly strong forecasts for its new fiscal year. The stock climbed $5.86, or 4.2 percent, to $145.09.
STILL NO: Industrial equipment and software maker Rockwell Automation rejected another offer from Emerson Electric. Rockwell said the third bid was still too low and not in the best interest of the company. Emerson bumped its bid to $225 a share, or about $29 billion, last week. Rockwell fell $2.21, or 1.1 percent, to $190.81 while Emerson rose $1.5, or 2.6 percent, to $61.91.
PAINT BY NUMBERS: Axalta Coating Systems climbed after it ended talks with one potential suitor but said it is talking to Nippon Paint about a possible sale. Axalta entered into talks with Dutch company AkzoNobel recently, but it said Wednesday that those discussions have ended. Axalta gained $1.55, or 4.6 percent, to $35.42.
METALS: Gold added $10.50 to $1,292.20 an ounce. Silver rose 15 cents to $17.11 an ounce. Copper rose 1 cent to $3.14 a pound.
OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline lost 1 cent to $1.77 a gallon. Heating oil remained at $1.93 a gallon. Natural gas skidded 5 cents to $2.97 per 1,000 cubic feet.
CURRENCIES: The dollar sank to 111.17 yen from 112.44 yen. The euro rose to $1.1822 from $1.1742.
OVERSEAS: Germany’s DAX lost 1.2 percent while the FTSE 100 in London rose 0.1 percent and France’s CAC 40 slipped 0.2 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.5 percent and the Hang Seng index of Hong Kong advanced 0.6 percent. The Kospi in South Korea rose 0.4 percent.
Source: Associated Press