Stocks staged a big comeback in the final hour of trading on Wednesday to finish the session little changed, but in the green. Earlier, the S&P 500 turned negative for the year, and the Dow lost as many as 277 points for what would have been the biggest one-day drop in five weeks.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,415.26, +12.42, (0.07%)
- S&P 500: 2,087.19, +3.12, (0.15%)
- Nasdaq: 5,050.56, +13.77, (0.27%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
- China devalued its currency for a second day. The People’s Bank of China let the Yuan fall 1.9% against the dollar again, in a move that’s aimed to stimulate a slowing economy and make exports competitive. Also, the government is attempting to get the yuan into the International Monetary Fund’s reserve assets known as special drawing rights (SDR), which would make it an international currency like the yen and the euro.
- Gold prices climbed to a three-week high. The precious metal has been on the advance for five days and gained more than 1%, or $US11 an ounce, to $US1,125 today. The outlook for gold is still largely bearish.
- Grain commodity futures collapsed after the US Department of Agriculture raised its projections for output. In a report, the USDA said it now expects corn production to total 13.7 billion bushels this year from about 81 million acres of land, up from the forecast of 13.53 billion a month ago. Soybean output is expected at 3.916 billion bushels, up from 3.885 estimated last month. Corn and soybeans futures fell about 6%.
- The hiring rate surged to a year-to-date high in June, according to the latest Job Openings and Labour Turnover Survey, or JOLTS report. The number of openings totaled 5.25 million, the Bureau of Labour Statistics said, below the forecast for 5.35 million. This print is still near the record high reached in May. The quits rate, which measures workers who voluntarily resign and is a key labour market measure for Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, held steady at 1.9%.
- Alibaba shares fell as much as 7% to an all-time low after the company reported revenues and sales growth below expectations. For the first fiscal quarter, the Chinese e-commerce giant posted $US3.16 billion in revenues (versus $US3.28 billion expected) and adjusted earnings per share of $US0.58 (versus $US0.56 expected). Gross merchandise volume, or the total value of goods sold through the marketplace, grew 34%, the slowest pace in three years. The company announced a buy back program worth $US4 billion to be completed over the next two years.