Wall Street's major averages were all trading near their intra-day highs at midday on Wednesday as strong Q1 corporate earnings overshadowed geopolitical risks brewing on the Korean peninsula and higher borrowing costs tied to the 10-year Treasury note. Better-than-expected results from Macy's ( M ) drove consumer stocks higher, offsetting losses in the energy and financial sectors of the S&P 500.
Bullish factory data also helped prop up Wall Street after industrial production and capacity utilization remained at multi-year highs. Production improved 0.7% in April, beating the consensus estimate for a 0.6% gain and followed an upwardly revised 0.7% increase in March.
At 78.0%, April capacity utilization missed estimates, but rose slightly from March's 77.6%.
Led by a significant decline in the construction of multi-family homes, housing starts were down 3.7% last month to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 1.287 million, below the consensus estimate of 1.324 million and follows an upwardly revised 1.336 million in March.
The pipeline of home construction also slowed as permits were down 1.8% in April to a SAAR of 1.352 million from a revised 1.377 million SAAR in March but slightly better than estimates.
Europe's major indices closed higher Wednesday with the notable exception of the Borsa Italiana as political turmoil in the country weighs on investor confidence. As the country's two major political parties struggle to hobble together a coalition government, reports circulated as early as Tuesday a joint government will push for the European Union to forgive nearly a quarter trillion euros in Italian debt. The 10-year Italian government bond cheapened 12 basis points and the major market index shed more than 2%.
Crude oil was down $0.22 to $71.09 per barrel. Natural gas was down $0.01 to $2.82 per 1 million BTU. Gold was down $0.20 to $1,290.10 an ounce, while silver was up $0.05 to $16.32 an ounce. Copper was up $0.01 to $3.06 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.28% to $14.36 with the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 0.56% to $23.00. Amongst precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 0.29% to 22.25 while SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.14% to $122.31. The iShares Silver Trust was up 0.24% to $15.37.
Here's where the markets stand at mid-day:
NYSE Composite Index was up 38.80 points (+0.31%) to 12,742.90
Dow Jones Industrial Index was up 41.09 points (+0.17%) to 24,747.50
S&P 500 was up 11.28 points (+0.42%) to 2,722.53
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 46.08 points (+0.63%) to 7,397.92
FTSE 100 was up 20.30 points (+0.26%) to 7,743.28
DAX was up 22.87 points (+0.18%) to 12,992.91
CAC 40 was up 16.46 points (+0.30%) to 5,569.62
Nikkei 225 was down 100.79 points (-0.44%) to 22,717.23
Hang Seng Index was down 41.83 points (-0.13%) to 31,110.20
Shanghai China Composite Index was down 22.41 points (-0.70%) to 3,169.71
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index was down 19.28 points (-0.15%) to 12,415.77
NYSE Financial Sector Index was down 1.73 points (-0.02%) to 8,128.56
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index was up 81.18 points (+0.57%) to 14,429.81
(+) GEMP (+20.15%) Initiated with outperform rating at Raymond James, $22 price target
(+) BOOT (+17.21%) Beat Q4 estimates, issued upbeat Q1 EPS guidance
(+) ABAX (+15.80%) Agreed to be acquired by Zoetis ( ZTS ) for $83 per share
(-) PRPL (-28.88%) Reported wider-than-expected Q1 loss, guides Q2, FY18 below estimate
(-) EOLS (-20.14%) FDA rejects marketing application for prabotulinumtoxinA
(-) VSTM (-10.88%) Announced $35 million stock offering
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