Market Update & Important Indicators
U.S. stocks were little changed Wednesday following the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's June meeting that showed officials readying plans to start gradually shrinking the Fed's balance sheet in coming months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 6 points, or less than 0.1%, to 21474. The S&P 500 rose 0.2% and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.7%, roughly where the indexes were before the release of the minutes. Investors have focused on global central bank signals in recent trading sessions, as some officials signal they might be ready to ease off on massive stimulus programs. Wednesday's minutes showed that the Fed is divided on when to start shrinking its $4.5 trillion portfolio of assets. Some officials preferred to announce the beginning of the process within the next few months, while others urged more patience. Technology firms led gains Wednesday after coming under pressure in recent weeks. The S&P 500's tech sector has been the index's best performer this year and was up 0.9% Wednesday, on track to end a three-session losing streak. The U.S. Gold price rose 0.3% to $1,226.70 USD/oz.
European stocks ended a choppy session in moderately positive territory on Wednesday, with shares of Adidas pushing higher after a broker upgrade, but energy companies slumping on the back of a renewed selloff in oil prices. The Stoxx Europe 600 index ended 0.2% higher at 382.99, after swinging between small gains and losses throughout the day. Equities had trouble finding their footing after falling on Tuesday for the fifth time in six sessions, with risk appetite dented after North Korea said it successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile. The geopolitical worries continued Wednesday, as in response, the White House denounced North Korea and demanded global action, while U.S. troops carried out joint exercises with its ally South Korea.
Asian markets mostly climbed after a bruising session Tuesday, where a broad decline in technology companies weighed down bourses, following losses by their U.S. counterparts on Monday. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.3%, driven by a gain in shares of tech heavyweight Samsung. The wider Hang Seng Index rose 0.5% following its worst session of the year, also supported by gains in insurers. Chinese markets reversed early losses Wednesday, despite data showing activity in China's services sector expanded at a slower pace in June. The Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.8%, while the Shenzhen Composite Index also added 0.8%, led by shares of alcoholic beverage and insurance companies. The Nikkei Stock Average was up by around 0.3%.
Australian stocks gave up a chunk of the previous session's rally on Wednesday, with investors selling a broad swath of the market. After notching up the strongest one-day gain in eight months, the S&P/ASX 200 retreated 20.5 points, or 0.4%, to 5763.3. The index has now fallen in three of the last four sessions. For the day, 1.84 billion shares were traded with a value of 4.92 billion Australian dollars (US$3.74 billion), Commonwealth Securities said.
The London Metal Exchange's three-month copper contract lost 0.9% overnight to close at $5,814/t. The other base metals also finished lower. Lead prices fell 1.2% to 2,253/t, nickel prices fell 0.2% to 9,122/t, tin prices fell 2.1% to 19,825/t, whilst zinc prices fell 0.5% to 2,780/t. Aluminium prices lost 0.1% to close at 1,920/t.
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