Stocks held slightly lower on Wednesday, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average hovered around 40 points below its 20,000 milestone.
The Dow fell 0.07% to 19,960 as better-than-expected earnings from Nike (NKE) - Get NIKE, Inc. (NKE) Report failed to deliver the big bump the blue-chip index needed to cross the 20,000 threshold. Nike had given back some gains Wednesday as worries over coming quarters superseded a positive recent quarter. Futures orders, a closely watched metric of future performance, rose just 2%, more than half off analysts' forecasts.
Nike topped analysts' second-quarter estimates on its top- and bottom-lines. The footwear and apparel retailer earned 50 cents a share, 7 cents higher than anticipated, while a sales increase of 6% exceeded estimates.
Nike shares added 1%.
Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (GS) Report , which has the index's largest weighting, was a drag on Wednesday. The bank slid 1%, one of the worst performers on the Dow. Goldman has been one of the biggest drivers toward Dow 20,000, contributing roughly 18% of its gains so far this year and 20% since Election Day.
The S&P 500 was down 0.11%, and the Nasdaq declined 0.1%. The Volatility Index, commonly referred to as the "fear index," was hovering at lows of 11.27. Since the election, the index has dropped nearly 40%.
The Dow also came close to capturing the historic 20,000 level on Tuesday but a lack of forward momentum put it within reach without pushing it over the edge. Still, the blue-chip index was able to clinch a new record close, alongside the Nasdaq.
The Dow, a blue-chip index which houses 30 of Wall Street's premium stocks, previously hit the 19,000 mark for the first time just a month ago on Nov. 22. The Dow first hit 100 in early 1906, just over two decades since its first day of trade. It then took more than 60 years to reach its 10,000 milestone, an achievement it made in November 1972. The Dow first hit 10,000 in March 1999.
The Dow has moved higher in response to optimism over President-elect Donald Trump's proposed spending plans. Trump's administration, viewed as Wall Street friendly, has already backed deregulation, infrastructure spending and tax cuts.
"After the initial shock of a Trump victory, a rally began in the U.S. equity markets as people began to realize that Donald Trump was not as much the disruptor of the established order as anticipated," said Doug Roberts, chief investment strategist at Channel Capital Research. "Many of Trump's positions will favor a particular asset class, sub-asset class, or sector at the expense of another but not necessarily portend a bear market."
Existing home sales in November in the U.S. hit a nearly nine-year high, the latest sign the housing market remains robust even as high prices and constrained supply temper demand. Sales of previously owned homes increased by 0.7% to an annual pace of 5.61 million in November, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday.
Crude oil prices remained higher on Wednesday despite a surprise gain in domestic oil inventories over the past week. The Energy Information Administration reported an increase of 2.26 million barrels over the past week. The official report conflicted with a separate read from the American Petroleum Institute which showed a decline of 4.1 million barrels in the U.S.
Oil prices have seen a choppy few days as worries resurfaced over whether major oil-producing nations could adhere to a recent production cut agreement. Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries recently agreed to cut output to 32.5 million barrels a day, a limit to go into effect in January. However, OPEC's output remains at record highs with just two weeks left in the year. OPEC members have to cut production by more than 1 million barrels a day.
West Texas Intermediate crude for February delivery was down 1.5% to $52.49 a barrel.
FedEx (FDX) - Get FedEx Corporation Report fell 2.6% after a disappointing quarter. The shipping company reported adjusted earnings of $2.80 a share on revenue of $14.93 billion in revenue. Analysts expected profit of $2.90 a share on sales of $14.91 billion. Operating expenses in the quarter rose 22% to $13.8 billion. Management also warned that aspects of President-elect Trump's trade proposals could hurt the company.
Accenture (ACN) - Get Accenture Plc Class A Report slid 4.9% after issuing disappointing guidance for fiscal 2017. The company cut its full-year earnings outlook to $5.64 to $5.87 a share, down from $5.75 to $5.98. Its current-quarter sales projections also missed estimates.
Finish Line (FINL) declined 10.8% after lowering its guidance for full-year comparable-store sales. The shoe retailer cut same-store sales growth for its February-ending fiscal year to flat to up 1%, down from previous growth targets of 3% to 5%. Full-year earnings guidance was also reduced to $1.24 to $1.30 a share, down from $1.50 to $1.56 a share.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Report confirmed on Wednesday that it has entered into exclusive negotiations with Actelion (ALIOY) over a possible transaction. Actelion had previously rejected a bid of $250 a share from the company. Sanofi (SNY) - Get Sanofi Sponsored ADR Report has also expressed interest in Actelion.
Merrimack Pharmaceuticals (MACK) - Get Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Report slumped 17.8% on Wednesday after halting its Phase II trial of a critical breast cancer treatment. A data and safety monitoring board recommendation suggested the MM-302 treatment was unlikely to deliver benefit over comparable treatment. Merrimack will offer further details in January.
Twitter (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report declined 4.3% on Wednesday after its chief technology officer, Adam Messinger, announced his resignation. The social network said its product, design function and engineering units would directly report to CEO Jack Dorsey as a means to "streamline and flatten the organization."
Alphabet (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report was initiated with a buy rating and $980 price target at Aegis Capital. Analysts said the company has multiple growth tailwinds and is buying back stock.