Stock losses deepened on Wednesday morning after crude oil turned negative and a decision on interest rates from the Federal Reserve loomed.
The S&P 500 was down 0.4%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.65%. Losses were roughly double what they were earlier in the session.
Members of the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee will assess recent mixed data and make a decision on interest rates on day two of their semi-monthly meeting. The majority of economists don't expect a change in interest rates.
"We won't get a hike," said Luke Bartholomew, investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management. "This meeting is going to be all about the signal that it sends about June. The Fed has a long track record of using one meeting to set up for something significant at the next one. It helps keep the market posted on Fed thinking and stops them from getting a shock. But the Fed waited quite late to signal their March hike. The tactic worked pretty well for them so they might do the same again. That would mean them giving away very little from this meeting and waiting to use speeches closer to the June meeting to reveal their thinking."
The odds of a rate hike to 1% to 1.25% at this meeting sit at a negligible 4.8%, according to CME Group fed funds futures. A June rate hike looks more likely, with a 67.4% chance. The meeting on Wednesday will conclude with no press conference, often taken by investors as a sign of no change in monetary policy.
"The main issue today is whether the Fed is going to acknowledge that President Trump's fiscal reforms are not taking place very quickly and whether it feels there is enough risk of stalled economic growth to temper some of its hawkishness," said James "Rev Shark" Deporre in his column for Real Money.
Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report posted quarterly iPhone sales that were weaker than analysts had anticipated. Apple was down 1% after beating estimates on its bottom-line but falling short on the top. The world's largest publicly traded company earned $2.10 a share on $52.9 billion in revenue. Analysts predicted earnings of $2.02 a share on sales of $53.02 billion. iPhone shipments of 50.8 million also fell short of estimates of 52.27 million. Services revenue rose 18% to $7.04 billion, which was slightly below consensus of $7.06 billion.
Third-quarter revenue guidance came in slightly weaker than expected. Apple said it expects revenue for the quarter ending in June of $43.5 billion to $45.5 billion, which falls short of the $45.63 billion consensus.
Quarterly sales miss aside, Brian Sozzi calls the stock "cheap by almost all measures" over on our premium site Real Money. Find out why with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
Apple is one of the most closely watched companies of the earnings season. The company is seen as an industry bellwether and a measure of consumer sentiment, taking the pulse of how willing consumers are to spend on discretionary items.
The stock fell about 1% on Wednesday.
The pace of new hires in the private sector slowed in April, according to the ADP National Employment Report. Private-sector employers added 177,000 jobs in April, slowing from a revised job creation rate of 255,000 in March. Economists had expected 180,000 jobs to have been added to private payrolls in April.
The ADP employment report is released the Wednesday before the official jobs report from the Labor Department on the first Friday of each month. On Friday, analysts anticipate data to show 193,000 jobs to have been added to the U.S. economy in April and for the unemployment rate to hold at 4.6%. Average hourly earnings are expected to grow 0.3%. The U.S. added 235,000 and 98,000 jobs over February and March, respectively, the first full two months under Donald Trump's presidency.
Activity in the services sector improved at a faster-than-expected pace in April. The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index rose to a reading of 57.5 in April from 55.2 in March. Analysts anticipated a reading of 55.8. Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector has risen for the past 88 months in a row.
Crude oil prices turned lower on Wednesday as domestic inventories fell at a slower pace than expected. Crude stockpiles in the U.S. fell by 900,000 barrels in the past week, according to the Energy Information Administration, after a drop of 3.6 million barrels a week earlier. Analysts expected inventories to decline by 2.3 million barrels. Gasoline inventories rose, while distillates fell.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil was down 0.2% to $47.58 a barrel on Wednesday.
Etsy (ETSY) - Get Etsy, Inc. Report slumped 10% after falling short of sales estimates and announcing that its CEO Chad Dickerson would step down. The online crafts site said it would refrain from providing guidance due to the switch-up in leadership. Josh Silverman will act as the new CEO as of Wednesday.
Yum! Brands (YUM) - Get Yum! Brands, Inc. (YUM) Report increased 3% after quarterly adjusted earnings topped consensus and the company saw strong same-store sales growth across most of its brands. The Taco Bell owner reported adjusted earnings of 65 cents a share, exceeding estimates by 6 cents. Revenue of $1.42 billion came in higher than consensus of $1.38 billion. Same-store sales at KFC rose 2%, while Taco Bell same-store sales increased 8%.
Gilead Sciences (GILD) - Get Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) Report fell more than 2% after falling short of earnings and sales estimates. The drugmaker earned an adjusted $2.23 a share, a nickel below estimates. Sales of $6.51 billion came in below consensus of $6.63 billion. Full-year sales forecasts also missed expectations.
Mondelez (MDLZ) - Get Mondelez International, Inc. Class A (MDLZ) Report rose 3% as earnings and revenue topped targets. The owner of Oreo earned an adjusted 53 cents a share, up 2 cents from the same quarter a year earlier. Consensus was for 50 cents a share in adjusted earnings. Sales of $6.41 billion exceeded expectations.
Western Union (WU) - Get Western Union Company Report posted a mixed quarter. Earnings of 35 cents a share missed consensus by 4 cents, while revenue was flat at $1.3 billion and came in $10 million over expectations.
Weight Watchers (WTW) - Get Weight Watchers International, Inc. Report rallied more than 17% after swinging to a quarterly profit. The weight-loss company earned 16 cents a share over its first quarter compared to a loss of 17 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Revenue improved to $319.1 million from $306.9 million.
New York Times (NYT) - Get New York Times Company Class A Report rose 11% after swinging to a quarterly profit and reporting a double-digit increase in circulation revenue. Earnings improved to 8 cents a share from a loss of 5 cents a share a year earlier, while adjusted earnings of 11 cents a share came in 4 cents higher than estimates. Circulation revenue increased 11% over its first quarter, a pace expected to continue in the second quarter. The news company has seen increased subscriptions in response to the Trump administration's attacks on the media.
Cybersecurity provider FireEye (FEYE) - Get FireEye, Inc. Report rose17% Wednesday after the company topped analysts' first-quarter profit expectations. Better-than-expected earnings set of a series of analyst changes. Wunderlich analysts raised their price target to $15 from $12, Stifel Nicolaus updated its to $20 from $17, and Wedbush Securities analysts upped theirs to $13 from $11.
Perrigo (PRGO) - Get Perrigo Co. Plc Report fell nearly 7% after the company disclosed late Tuesday night that search warrants had been executed at its corporate offices in association with an ongoing U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division investigation. The investigation is in relation to drug pricing in the pharmaceutical industry.
Broadcasting and media stocks moved lower on Wednesday after Hulu launched its live TV streaming service, a $40-a-month offering which includes 50 channels, including those from ABC, Fox, and CBS. The service offers a cheaper alternative to cable companies' packages and could further the trend of consumers cutting the cord. Hulu is part-owned by Disney (DIS) - Get Walt Disney Company Report , Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA) - Get Fox Corporation Class A Report , Comcast (CMCSA) - Get Comcast Corporation Class A Report , and Time Warner (TWX) .
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