Stocks finished the lower but little changed after the minutes from the latest FOMC meeting did little to move the market. Gold, meanwhile, had a wild day, falling as much as $US20 an ounce in just minutes before quickly erases those losses and falling again.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,683.36, -4.4, (-0.03%)
- S&P 500: 2,048.7, -3, (-0.1%)
- Nasdaq: 4,674.8, -27.5, (-0.6%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
1. The biggest story on Wednesday was the Fed. The minutes from the latest FOMC meeting were released at 2:00 pm ET, showing that the Fed is keeping an eye on the market’s inflation expectations as well as what the Fed called a “somewhat weaker” outlook in Europe, China, Japan, and the stronger US dollar. The minutes also showed considerable disagreement within the Fed over how it will communicate to the market its intentions to raise interest rates. In its last policy statement, the Fed kept the phrase “considerable time” in its statement, indicating how long it expects to elapse between the end of its QE program and its first interest rate hike.
2. The big mover on Wednesday was gold, which quickly fell more than 1.5% in late morning trade before bouncing all the way back and settling down about $US10/ounce. The initial tumble in gold followed headlines that said a Swiss referendum to require the country to keep at least 20% of its reserves in the precious metal had fallen out of favour with voters. The referendum is set to be put to a vote on November 30. Switzerland currently keeps about 8% of its reserves in gold.
3. A big stock loser on Wednesday was Tesla, which fell more than 4% after Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas cut his expectations for deliveries of the company’s Model X SUV to 5,000 from 15,000 from 2015, citing manufacturing difficulties due to the vehicle’s door style.
4. JetBlue announced plans to add checked bag fees and pack passengers into its planes more tightly, an announcement that was cheered by investors, as the stock gained more than 4% on Wednesday, but as Business Insider’s Matt DeBord reports, is a move that takes the airline decidedly away from the things people love about JetBlue.
5. Staples shares were big winners on Wednesday, gaining more than 8% after the office supplies retailer reported earnings and sales that beat expectations and announced plans to close 170 stores in North America, more than 140 store closures the company had earlier announced.
6. On the economic data front, housing data in the form of housing starts and building permits came in mixed. The pace of housing starts fell 2.8% in October, worse than the 0.8% increase expected by economists, though building permits rose more than expected in October.
7. How low are long-term interest rates? This is only the second time since 1800 that long-term US Treasury yields have been this low, with the only other period of long-term rates being pegged near these levels coming in the period after the Great Depression and through World War II.