Stocks were slightly higher on Wednesday after upbeat reports on America’s services sector, and a weaker-than-expected private payrolls print from ADP. Disney fell more than 10% to pull down the blue-chip Dow after quarterly revenues missed forecasts.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,574.11, +23.42, (0.13%)
- S&P 500: 2,104.43, +11.11, (0.53%)
- Nasdaq: 5,153.29, +47.75, (0.94%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
- Bank of America downgraded Apple. In a note, analysts wrote that a slowdown in iPhone sales could dampen revenue growth. They wrote, “Although the long-term opportunity is significant, we expect near-term pressure on shares.” They downgraded the stock to “Neutral” from “Buy” and lowered their price target to $US130 from $US142. Apple fell to as low as $US112.10 today.
- America’s services industries are on fire. We got two data points: ISM’s non-manufacturing composite was reported at 60.3 for July, a ten-year high that topped the consensus forecast of 56.2. And, Markit US services PMI came in at 55.7 for July, beating the forecast for 55.2. New work rose at the fastest pace in three months and above the historical average. But confidence in the business outlook fell to the lowest level in two years. Still, Barclays economists wrote, “On balance, we view the broad-based nature of the improvement in the non-manufacturing ISM as encouraging and see the US service sector on a positive trajectory in Q3.”
- Private payrolls grew by 185,000 in July, missing the forecast for 215,000. “July employment growth was slower than June [when private payrolls advanced to a year-to-date high of 237,000], but is still in line with what we have seen since the first of the year,” said ADP CEO Carlos Rodriguez. A number of economists including UBS’ Kevin Cummins have cautioned against using this data series as a preview for the official jobs report, which we’ll get again on Friday.
- West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped below $US45 per barrel for the first time since March. Futures fell nearly 2% to as low as $US44.85 in New York. Before the plunge, the Energy Information Administration released its weekly data which showed that commercial crude inventories fell by 4.4 million barrels to 455.3 million last week.
- Lumber Liquidators shares tanked as much as 27% after the company reported an unexpected quarterly loss. The company noted that sales are still being hurt by a “60 Minutes” report in March that accused the company of using flooring from China that contained toxic levels of formaldehyde. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $US-0.75 ($US0.037 estimated), with sales at $US247.94 million ($US258.56 million expected). The company could not estimate a full-year outlook. It remains the subject of a federal investigation, and following a resignation, it’s searching for a new CEO.
- Disney shares collapsed 10% after the company reported a miss on revenues and lowered its outlook. Revenues rose 5.1% to $US13.1 billion and missed the consensus estimate of $US13.2 billion. The company cut its outlook for profits in its cable business. Subscriber numbers have been on the decline at ESPN, although the network owns a war chest of viewing rights and will be just fine, according to Ben Thompson at Stratechery. Disney touched an all-time high on Tuesday.
“Although the long-term opportunity is significant, we expect near-term pressure on shares,”