STOCKS SLIP, APPLE TANKS: Here's what you need to know

Stocks closed in the red for a second straight session after mixed earnings results from key tech companies pulled down their shares and weighed on the major indices.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 17,838.71, -80.58, (-0.45%)
  • S&P 500: 2,113.62, -5.59, (-0.26%)
  • Nasdaq: 5,170.04, -38.08, (-0.73%)

And now, the top stories on Wednesday:

  1. The US housing market is on fire. Existing home sales rose 3.2% to an annualized pace of 5.49 million, the fastest pace since February 2007.In the release from the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun noted that the past two months were the strongest for sales since early 2007. “There are several positive tailwinds for the housing sector that should result in a more pronounced pickup in activity over the next several quarters,” wrote Deutsche Joe LaVorgna in a note to clients.
  2. Also, the latest report from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) showed that prices rose 0.4% month-over-month, matching estimates.
  3. Crude oil fell below $US50 per barrel again. West Texas Intermediate crude slipped more than 3% to as low as $US49.08 per barrel in New York, the lowest level in about four months. Data from the Energy Information Administration showed that US commercial crude inventories rose by 2.4 million last week. On Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute reported a build by 2.3 million barrels, more than analysts forecast.
  4. Gold tanked. Gold futures settled lower for a 10th straight session, and the spot price fell to $US1,085.90 an ounce. Goldman Sachs’ head of commodities Jeff Currie sees the precious metal dropping below $US1,000, and is “on the short side” for the longer term.
  5. The pending merger between Baker Hughes and Halliburton is at risk. According to Bloomberg, Justice Department lawyers say that combining the second- and third-largest oilfield services companies would stifle competition. Baker Hughes shares slumped 12%, and Halliburton fell more than 5%. Halliburton announced last November that it would buy its smaller competitor for $US34.6 billion.
  6. Apple shares plunged up to 5% even after an impressive quarter, with $US49.6 billion in revenue and earnings of $US10.7 billion, or $US1.85 per share — both beating forecasts. Sales of iPhones fell came in lighter than expected, however. As Business Insider’s Oscar Williams-Grut noted, stocks of Apple’s suppliers weighed down the FTSE 100. Virtually all of the sell-side analyst notes we thumbed through maintained their bullish view of the company and its stock
  7. Chipotle shares rose more than 7%to an all-time high. Yesterday evening, the restaurant chain reported earnings and revenues that topped estimates, although sales at stores open for more than one year fell short of analysts’ estimates. The stock climbed as high as $US729.47 per share, and is now up 1,618% from its 2006 IPO.

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