After moving modestly higher early in the session, stocks have turned mostly lower over the course of the trading day on Wednesday. The major averages have pulled back well off their highs of the session and into negative territory.
Currently, the major averages are posting modest losses. The Dow is down 41.67 points or 0.1 percent at 34,847.12, the Nasdaq is down 41.98 points or 0.3 percent at 14,635.67 and the S&P 500 is down 4.64 points or 0.1 percent at 4,364.57.
The early strength on Wall Street partly reflected a positive reaction to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s prepared remarks before the House Financial Services Committee.
Powell reiterated the belief that “substantial further progress” towards the Fed’s goals of maximum employment and price stability is “still a ways off,” suggesting the central bank is not likely to begin tightening monetary policy anytime soon.
The Fed chief also once again stressed that the Fed will provide “advance notice” before announcing any changes to its asset purchase program.
Powell acknowledged that inflation has increased notably and will likely remain elevated in coming months but predicted inflation would moderate as the effects of the production bottlenecks unwind.
Buying interest waned shortly after the start of trading, however, as the sentiment from Powell was little changed from the Fed’s recent assessments.
Powell’s comments about inflation came as the Labor Department released a report showing producer prices jumped by much more than expected in the month of June.
The Labor Department said its producer price index for final demand surged up by 1.0 percent in June after climbing by 0.8 percent in May. Economists had expected producer prices to rise by 0.6 percent.
The report also showed the annual rate of producer price growth accelerated to 7.3 percent in June from 6.6 percent in May, reaching the highest level since 12-month data were first calculated in November of 2010.
On the earnings front, shares of Citigroup (C) have turned lower over the course of the session even though the financial giant reported better than expected second quarter earnings.
Delta Air Lines (DAL) has also moved to the downside despite reporting a narrower than expected second quarter loss on revenues that exceeded analyst estimates.
Meanwhile, shares of Bank of America (BAC) have come under pressure after the financial giant reported second quarter earnings that beat expectations but on weaker than expected revenues.
Energy stocks have moved sharply lower over the course of the session, with a steep drop by the price of crude oil weighing on the sector.
Crude for August delivery is tumbling $1.13 to $74.12 a barrel after a report from Reuters said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have reached a compromise over OPEC+ policy.
Reflecting the weakness in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index is down by 3.3 percent, the NYSE Arca Oil Index is down by 2.6 percent and the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index is down by 2.3 percent.
Considerable weakness has also emerged among financial stocks, with the KBW Bank Index and the NYSE Arca Broker/Dealer Index falling by 1.6 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.
Biotechnology stocks have also moved to the downside on the day, while gold stocks are seeing some strength amid an increase by the price of the precious metal.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.4 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index tumbled by 1.1 percent.
Meanwhile, European stocks showed a modest move to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index slid by 0.5 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both closed just below the unchanged line.
In the bond market, treasuries are regaining ground after coming under pressure over the course of the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 5.1 basis points at 1.364 percent.
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