Stocks ticked up early on Wednesday, and then more or less stayed in place before dipping slightly in the late afternoon.
Still, all major indices finished in the green.
First up, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 18,220.43 , +58.49, (+0.32%)
- S&P 500: 2,145.89 , +6.30, (+0.29%)
- Nasdaq: 5,250.67 , +6.83, (+0.13%)
- WTI crude oil: $51.38, +1.09, (+2.17%)
- 10-year Treasury yield: 1.745%, -0.3 basis points
- The Fed released its latest Beige Book, noting that the labour market is tight. According to the Fed, wage growth remained modest. However, some districts reported wage pressures because there weren’t enough available workers.
- But, almost everyone the Fed questioned had terrible things to say about Houston’s economy. On retail sales, contacts in Dallas said auto sales fell less than what was normal for that time of year, although “weakness persisted in the Houston auto market.” And the housing market did not fare any better.
- Oil prices spiked after data from the EIA showed that US crude-oil inventories unexpectedly dropped last month. Prices for West Texas Intermediate crude, the US benchmark, were up by 3.1% to a 15-month high of $51.83 a barrel as of 10:54 a.m. ET. Prices for Brent crude, the international benchmark, were higher by 2.7% at $53.05 a barrel.
- Meanwhile, the Russian ruble strengthened against the greenback. The petro-currency, which has historically moved in conjunction with oil prices, was up by 0.8% at 62.2970 per dollar around 3:01 p.m. ET.
- Housing starts unexpectedly plunged by 9% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.05 million. Starts of multi-family structures with five or more units fell 39%, and were the biggest drag on overall construction.
- GNC might be sold to a Chinese buyer — and the stock took off. Shares of GNC Holdings gained by as much as 8% in early trading after news that Chinese buyers are interested in the nutritional supplement retailer.