US Markets

Stocks close mixed, Dow climbs to another record close after US data deluge

Dow, Russell 2000 hit new all-time highs

U.S. stocks closed mixed on Wednesday as investors digested a number of economic data, including minutes from the Federal Reserve's November meeting.

The minutes released on Wednesday back the consensus view on Wall Street that the Fed is poised to raise rates in December. Policymakers left borrowing costs unchanged earlier this month, just days before Republican Donald Trump triumphed in the Nov. 8 presidential contest.

"There's nothing groundbreaking here. This is just reiterating the fact that the minority is pushing for a rate hike," said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist at Stifel Fixed Income. "It really sets us up for a key meeting in just a few weeks."

Voting members of the Fed's rate-setting committee saw equal risks the economy would overshoot or undershoot their forecasts for continued growth and a tightening labor market. "Almost all of them continued to judge that near-term risks to the economic outlook were roughly balanced," according to the minutes.

According to the CME Group's FedWatch tool, market expectations for a rate hike next month are more than 95 percent.

Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial said a December rate hike has already been priced in by the market, but "what's not baked in is the notion that the Fed might bee forced to raise rates faster than expected."

The Dow Jones industrial average set a new intraday record in midmorning trade, and rose about 58 points higher, with Caterpillar contributing the most gains, also notching a record close. The S&P 500 closed marginally higher, as industrials led advancers, but still managed to close at a record high.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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"The SPX confirmed a breakout yesterday that yields a short-term measured move price projection of 2285. The breakout is supported by positive short-term momentum, and overbought conditions have yet to create a drag on the market," Katie Stockton, chief technical strategist at BTIG, said in a note.

The Nasdaq composite underperformed, falling approximately 0.1 percent. The U.S. stock market will be closed on Thursday because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Weekly jobless claims increased 18,000 to a seasonally adjusted 251,000 for the week ended Nov. 19, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. That said, claims have now been below 300,000, a threshold associated with a healthy labor market, for 90 straight weeks.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said U.S. durable goods increased 4.8 percent in October, well above a 1.5 percent consensus estimate.

"We got some pretty strong durable goods orders," First Standard's Cardillo. "I think this is an indication of corporations stepping up, and that's an indication of higher economic performance."

Other data released Wednesday included the IHS Markit manufacturing index for November, which showed a slight increase to 53.9 from 53.4 in October. A reading above 50 signals expansion within the sector. "The headline index was the highest since October 2015, largely reflecting robust output and new business growth during the latest survey period," IHS said.

New home sales for October fell 1.9 percent, while consumer sentiment came in at 93.8, above a 91.6 estimate.

The data deluge comes a day after U.S. equities posted record highs on an intraday and closing basis, as the Dow and S&P closed above 19,000 and 2,200, respectively, for the first time. The Russell 2000, which is composed of small-cap stocks, also notched its longest winning streak in two decades on Tuesday.

Stocks have surged on the back of President-elect Donald Trump's surprising victory over Hillary Clinton, as investors focus on Trump's proposed growth policies, including deregulation of certain sectors, tax cuts and infrastructure spending.

Other assets, particularly the U.S. dollar, have also appreciated considerably since the election. On Wednesday, the dollar index extended gains following the strong durable goods data, trading around levels not seen since 2003.

"The dollar rally has taken to another level on the back of the US durable good data which was really stunning and mind blowing," Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets, said in a note.

"The economy is strong and the data is telling you that clearly. The question is how much attention the Fed is going to pay in relation to their future path of interest rate hike. Under the current situation, we expect the Fed to remain very hawkish during the first quarter of 2017," Aslam said.

In corporate news, Juno Therapeutics shares plunged around 25 percent after the firm announced complications with a drug trial. Meanwhile, Eli Lilly's stock tanked more than 10 percent after an experimental drug designed to fight Alzheimer's disease failed a trial.

Major U.S. Indexes

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 59.31 points, or 0.31 percent, to close at 19,083.18, with Caterpillar leading advancers and Microsoft the biggest decliner.

The rose 1.78 points, or 0.08 percent, to close at 2,204.72, with industrials leading seven sectors higher and utilities lagging.

The Nasdaq composite slipped 5.67 points, or 0.11 percent, to end at 5,380.68.

Advancers and decliners were about even at the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 813 million and a composite volume of 3.345 billion at the close.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded higher, near 12.4.

In oil markets, U.S. crude futures for January delivery fell 0.15 percent to settle at $47.96 per barrel after the Energy Information Administration reported a drawdown of 1.3 million barrels in crude stockpiles for last week.

Gold futures for December delivery fell $21.90 to settle at $1,189.30 per ounce.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

On tap this week:


Thanksgiving holiday

US markets closed


8:30 a.m. Trade deficit

9:45 a.m. Markit Services PMI