Stocks were mixed on Wednesday. They jumped after the Federal Reserve published the minutes of its last policy meeting. The S&P 500 crossed its intra-day high and the Dow came within one point of a record, but there was slide into the close.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 18,344.47, +32.08, (0.18%)
- S&P 500: 2,126.57, -1.26, (-0.06%)
- Nasdaq: 5,072.98, +2.95, (0.06%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
- The Federal Reserve will probably not raise rates in June. The Fed is on the verge of losing its patience, but economic data is not strong enough to justify a rate hike just yet. Here’s the key portion from the minutes of the April 28-29 meeting: “A few anticipated that the information that would accrue by the time of the June meeting would likely indicate sufficient improvement in the economic outlook to lead the Committee to judge that its conditions for beginning policy firming had been met. Many participants, however, thought it unlikely that the data available in June would provide sufficient confirmation that the conditions for raising the target range for the federal funds rate had been satisfied, although they generally did not rule out this possibility.”
- In addition, the Fed noted that the factors holding back the economy during the first quarter were transitory, meaning that they will pass in time. Most economists on Wall Street expect the Fed to raise rates in September or December, with some saying the Fed won’t raise rates until March 2016; others have argued that the Fed has a window to act right now.
- Six Wall Street banks have agreed to pay a combined $US5.8 billion in fines in connection with the 2008 LIBOR currency market and interest rate rigging scandal. According to the Justice Department, some of the banks colluded to set the benchmark LIBOR rate used across London. Barclays is paying the most fines: $US2.4 billion. UBS, Citi, JPMorgan, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Bank of America were also slapped with fines.
- Crude inventories fell for a third straight week. Data from the Energy Information Administration showed that commercial crude inventories fell by 2.7 million barrels in the week ended May 15. Inventories fell by 2.19 million barrels in the prior week. This week’s decline brought the total to 482 million barrels, still an 80-year high.
- The Bureau of Economic Analysis says it is “aware of issues” related to how it tabulates Gross Domestic Product. In a statement to CNBC, the bureau said it is “developing methods to address what it has found.” The first quarter reading of GDP was 0.2%, well below expectations for 1% growth; economists are expecting a revision lower. In a note to clients in April, Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna said that the recent pattern of first quarter weakness from the economy was likely due to “faulty seasonal adjustment” by the BEA.
- Etsy shares tumbled more than 24% after reporting earnings on Wednesday. The Brooklyn-based online craft marketplace reported a net loss per share of 84¢, and sales of $US58.5 million (vs $US58 expected.) Etsy saw a massive 87.5% jump in shares on April 16, its first day of trading. The company said the strong dollar could hurt foreign sales. Analysts at Wedbush reiterated their “Underperform” rating, on concern many listings are for fake goods.
- American Eagle shares rallied up to 5% after a big beat on earnings with strong sales. It posted earnings per diluted share of $US0.15, up from $US0.02 in the prior year quarter, and better than expectations for earnings of $US0.12. Sales came in at $US700 million (up 8%, versus $US691.5 million expected.) Other retailers including Urban Outfitters, Macy’s and JCPenney posted earnings below analyst expectations. In the crowded market for teen apparel, the company has a leading position, according to B.Riley.