Market Update & Important Indicators
U.S. stocks rose slightly Wednesday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its third straight session of gains as it drifted toward its all-time high. The S&P 500 hasn't breached its record close of 2130.82 in more than a year the longest dry spell since 2013. In the period since the last record, investors have grappled with intensifying concerns about the global economy, negative interest rates in parts of Europe and Asia and the Federal Reserve's first increase in rates since the financial crisis. Investors remain cautious even as the market inches higher, traders and analysts said. The S&P 500 hasn't posted a gain of 1% or more since May 24.
Stock markets in Europe ended mostly lower, with the Stoxx Europe 600 falling 0.6%, as investors grappled with tepid economic data. The World Bank late Tuesday cut its forecasts for global growth this year to 2.4%, from the 2.9% it forecast in January, and reduced its projections for the U.S. economy.
Chinese stocks slipped Wednesday and trading was tepid across Asia, as investors braced for upcoming economic data out of China and a key decision next week by benchmark provider MSCI Inc. The Shanghai Composite Index finished down 0.3%. The Hang Seng Index closed down 0.1% after four straight sessions of gains. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.8% and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose by 0.9%. Chinese stocks slipped after news that Chinese exports fell 4.1% in May, compared with April's 1.8% drop. Markets have been caught in a holding pattern, with investors reluctant to put on big trades ahead of two important events: MSCI on June 15 is expected to announce whether it will include Chinese mainland stocks in its widely tracked benchmarks. Chinese stocks got a boost last week amid speculation that MSCI will announce the inclusion of A-shares traded on the mainland, but the Shanghai Composite closed down 0.4% this week.
A jump in Australian oil and gas stocks failed to offset pockets of weakness elsewhere, leaving the equities market flat Wednesday. After picking up from early lows, the S&P/ASX 200 finished just 1 point lower at 5370.0. The basket of energy shares climbed 2.1% following a push by crude oil above US$50 per barrel, but the mining-heavy materials subindex pulled back from gains in recent days and most banks retreated after the Reserve Bank of Australia's decision Tuesday to leave its cash rate on hold raised doubts interest rates will be cut further any time soon.
Copper futures closed higher in London Wednesday, after better-than-expected Chinese imports stimulated further demand. The London Metal Exchange's three-month copper contract was up 0.2% at $4,578 a ton at the PM kerb close, pulling back from multi-week lows. All the base metals ended the day higher. Aluminium closed up 2.7% at $1,595 a ton, zinc was up 3% at $2,058 a ton, nickel was up 4.4% at $8,918 a ton, and lead was up 1.5% at $1,729 a ton.
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