The view that QE3 was likely off the table caused some gyrations in precious metals but the June gold contract settled down $1.50 at $1642.30 after running as low as 1625. The dollar traded slightly higher against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index up 0.08%. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note lost 2/32, with the yield rising to 1.989%.
Breadth within the Dow was positive, with 24 of the index's 30 components on the rise, led by Boeing (BA), which rose more than 5% after its quarterly report; Alcoa (BA), du Pont (DD), IBM (IBM), Intel (INTC), and American Express (AXP).
The biggest drain on the Dow was Caterpillar (CAT), which fell more than 4% after its quarterly report. Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) also fell for a third straight session following revelations of its bribery scandal in Mexico over the weekend.
In the broad market, winners outpaced losers by a roughly 3-to-1 ratio on both the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. The VIX, which measures market volatility through options activity in the S&P 500, fell more than 7% to 16.82, gravitating away from the 20 level, which is indicative of rising market fear.Wall Street shrugged off a weak report on durable goods orders in March. The Commerce Department said orders fell 4.2% last month following a downwardly-revised gain of 1.9% in February. The reading was the biggest decline in durable goods orders since January 2009 and much worse than the 1.7% decline expected by economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Excluding the transportation component, orders were down 1.1%. U.S. stocks had finished mixed on Tuesday with the Dow pushed higher by positive earnings reports and a dividend hike from IBM (IBM). Nasdaq was tripped up by a 2% decline in Apple ahead of its report. The stock had fallen in 10 of the previous 11 sessions, losing roughly 10% along the way, with the weakness in part stemming from sell-side concerns about the iPhone. That weakness was forgotten Wednesday morning with Apple shares gaining nearly 9% to easily regain the $600 level. The company's fiscal second-quarter profit soared 93% year-over-year with heavy iPhone demand leading the way.
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