The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday an as-expected flat read for the consumer price index for December, after a 0.3% decline the prior month. The core CPI, which excludes food and energy components, rose 0.1% after ticking up 0.1% the prior month. Economists predicted the core print would rise 0.2%.
"Overall the subdued pace of inflation is continuing to create a supportive environment for the Fed to keep its monetary policy stance ultra-accommodative, allaying fears that the explosion in its balance sheet could trigger a inflation problem," said Millan Mulraine, a senior U.S. strategist at TD Securities.
The Federal Reserve said industrial production rose 0.3% in December, which was as expected, after rising by a downwardly revised 1% in November. Capacity utilization increased to 78.8% from an upwardly revised 78.7%. Economists expected capacity utilization to increase to 78.5%.
The National Association of Home Builders said its housing market index was unchanged at 47 in January; an uptick to 48 was expected. Still, Jim O'Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said he doubts the flat read signals an end to the uptrend.The Fed's January Beige Book commentary on economic conditions reported modest to moderate economic growth by all its districts. It also found that holiday sales were modestly higher in 2012 than in 2011. Nonfinancial service-sector activity improved overall, real estate activity expanded or held steady in 11 of the 12 districts, while wages, prices and employment conditions printed as relatively unchanged. Gold for February delivery settled down 70 cents to $1,683.20 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while February crude oil futures closed up 96 cents at $94.24 a barrel. The benchmark 10-year Treasury was up 6/32 to dilute the yield to 1.820%. The dollar was up 0.04%, according to the U.S. dollar index. U.S. Bancorp (USB) on Wednesday reported another strong quarter, but the company's loan growth was slowing. Shares were down 0.4% on Wednesday. Comerica ( CMA ) of Dallas on Wednesday reported improving earnings, with declining restructuring expenses and solid commercial loan growth. Shares were up 3.7%. General Motors (GM) said Tuesday it expects only a modest increase in pretax profit this year as it rolls out multiple new cars and trucks worldwide. Shares slipped 4.2%. Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) said Tuesday it expects fourth-quarter net income of $1.92 to $1.97 a share. The restaurant company forecast revenue would rise to almost $700 million, up 17% from a year earlier. Shares fell 5.5%. Analysts were expecting quarterly profit of $2.09 a share on revenue of $690.7 million. Wendy's (WEN - Get Report) shares tacked on 3.7% after the quick-service hamburger company easily beat fourth-quarter expectations. Dell (DELL - Get Report) tumbled 4.3% as buyout rumors continue to swirl around the Texan tech giant. Genworth Financial (GNW - Get Report) shares surged 8.9% after the company announced a U.S. mortgage insurance capital plan that could reduce Genworth Mortgage Insurance Co.'s risk-to-capital by 12 to 15 points and decrease the likelihood that the U.S. mortgage insurance subsidiaries will require additional capital for the foreseeable future. -- Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York.
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