U.S. Stocks Close Little Changed Following Lackluster Session

Stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Wednesday, with the major averages bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line after trending higher over the past several sessions.

The major averages eventually ended the session narrowly mixed. While the Dow edged down 40.33 points or 0.1 percent to 34,112.27, the Nasdaq crept up 10.56 points or 0.1 percent to 13,650.41 and the S&P 500 inched up 4.40 points or 0.1 percent to 4,382.78.

Despite the choppy trading, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 extended their winning streaks to nine and eight sessions, respectively, with the latter once again reaching its best closing level in well over a month.

The lackluster performance on Wall Street came as traders seemed reluctant to make significant moves following the recent strength in the markets.

Stocks did not succumb to profit taking, however, as optimism the Federal Reserve is done raising interest rates continued to support the markets.

Amid the focus on the outlook for interest rates, traders kept a close eye on remarks by Fed Chair Jerome Powell this morning.

However, Powell refrained from specifically addressing monetary policy, focusing his remarks on praise for the work done by the Fed’s Division of Research and Statistics.

The Fed chief is also scheduled to participate in a policy panel discussion before the 24th Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference on Thursday.

Traders also largely shrugged off the results of the Treasury Department’s auction of $40 billion worth of ten-year notes, which attracted average demand.

Sector News

Most of the sectors showed only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.

Gold stocks showed a substantial move to the downside, however, with the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index plunging by 2.8 percent.

The sell-off by gold stocks came amid a decrease by the price of the precious metal, as gold for December delivery fell $15.70 to $1,957.80 an ounce.

Considerable weakness was also visible among biotechnology stocks, resulting in a 1.5 percent drop by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index.

Oil producer, natural gas and brokerage stocks also saw notable weakness, while pharmaceutical and software stocks saw some strength on the day.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday. While Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index dipped by 0.3 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, most European stocks moved to the upside on the day. The French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.5 percent, although the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index bucked the uptrend and edged down by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have climbed firmly into positive territory over the course of the session. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 6.0 basis points at 4.511 percent.

Looking Ahead

Powell’s remarks may attract more attention on Thursday, while traders are also likely to keep an eye on a report on weekly jobless claims.

On the earnings front, entertainment giant Disney (DIS) is among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today’s trading.

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