Stocks were mixed Wednesday as investors wait for the conclusion of the Federal Open Markets Committee meeting later this afternoon and possible signs of how long the Federal Reserve plans to keep its accommodative monetary policies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average again rose to a new, all-time high, encouraged by benign inflation data during August and a much-better-than-expected increase in a key housing market index.
Also contributing to the Dow's advance was component company DuPont ( DD ), which rose by as much as 5% today after activist investor Norman Peltz put the chemical giant in his cross hairs. But the S&P 500 recently drifted into the red, giving up early gains for industrial and material stocks after U.S. Steel ( X ) and Nucor Corp ( NUE ) both issued upbeat Q3 guidance.
Wednesday's economic data included August CPI which unexpectedly dropped 0.2%, compared with market expectations looking for no change last month in consumer prices. Excluding food and fuel, core CPI was unchanged.
The Commerce Department also reported the nation's current account deficit narrowed to $98.5 billion in Q2, missing estimates looking for a $114.0 billion deficit.
Finally, the National Association of Home Builders reported that its housing market index for September soared to a 9-year high of 59, well above estimates for a small increase to 56 from 55 in August.
In Europe, equities closed mixed with the FTSE-100 ending the day before the Scottish referendum in the red. EU-zone equities were mostly higher after EU inflation remained at record lows, insuring that the European Central Bank will keep its current monetary policy of low rates and ample liquidity in place.
Crude oil was down $0.70 to $94.19 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.01 to $4.07 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $1.00 to $1,235.80 an ounce, while silver was down $0.05 to $18.67 an ounce. Copper was down $0.02 to $3.15 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.48% to $35.08 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 0.25% to $21.81. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 0.33% to 23.92 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.03% to $118.79. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.11% to $17.93.
Here's where the U.S. markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index up 2.95 (+0.03%) to 10,983.08
Dow Jones Industrial Average up 3.56 (+0.02%) to 17,135.53
S&P 500 down 0.43 (-0.02%) to 1,998.55
Nasdaq Composite Index up 4.02 (+0.09%) to 4,556.78
Nikkei 225 Index down 0.14%
Hang Seng Index up 1.00%
Shanghai China Composite Index up 0.49%
FTSE 100 Index down 0.17%
CAC 40 up 0.50%
DAX up 0.30%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index down 0.36%
NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.08%
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index up 0.15%
(+) AUXL (+44.01%) Endo International ( ENDP ) offered $2 billion for Auxillium Pharm.
(+) CTIC (+12.15%) $133.5 mln license deal with Servier for B-Cell non-Hodgkin Lymphoma drug.
(+) YRCW (+16.82%) Amends credit agreement, sees Q3 operating income of $22mln-$27mln.
(+) NETE (+28.85%) Will incorporate Apple ( AAPL ) services into point-of-sale terminals.
(-) RAX (-15.76%) Company concludes strategic evaluation, saying it will remain independent .
(-) ADBE (-3.79%) Missed analyst forecasts for Q3 earnings.
(-) RTRX (-8.89%) Marc Panoff will transition from CFO position.
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