Markets had their first down day of the year Wednesday after all three major indices closed the day in the red.
U.S. stocks seesawed Wednesday after Treasury yields jumped to a 10-month high following reports that China might be reconsidering its investment in U.S. government debt.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 16.6 points (0.07%) at 25,369.20 shortly after trading lower for much of Wednesday's session. The S&P 500 was off 3.06 points (-0.11%) at 2,748.23 and the Nasdaq was down 10 points (0.14%) at 7,153.57.
Indices traded even lower earlier in the session after Bloomberg reported that officials managing China's massive $3.14 trillion in foreign reserves -- which touched a September 2016 high last month -- were considering slowing or even halting their investments in U.S. Treasuries, citing trade tensions between Beijing and Washington as well as the lure of other global asset classes. China is the world's biggest foreign investor in U.S. government debt, with $1.189 trillion on its balance sheet, according to the latest U.S. Treasury data.
"If the reports turn out to be true and China no longer sees Treasuries as an attractive option, the repercussions could be significant as the country is one of the biggest holders of U.S. debt," foreign-exchange strategist Craig Erlam of Oranda said. "A significant change in policy could put considerable upside pressure on U.S. yields, the result of which would be an effective tightening for the U.S."
Benchmark 10-year Treasury bond yields traded at 2.55% shortly after 4 p.m. ET -- slightly lower than earlier in the session -- after demand at an auction of 10-year debt was stronger than expected. U.S. 2-year Treasury yields also rose to 1.97% after briefly hitting a post-financial-crisis peak of 1.976%.
Conversely, the U.S. Dollar Index, a measure of the greenback's strength against a basket of six global currencies, fell 0.24% to 92.309 thanks to a surge in the Japanese yen, which briefly rose to a six-week high of 111.5 following the Bloomberg report amid bets that Japanese government bonds could become increasingly attractive to Chinese buyers.
The Dow's biggest laggards were Intel Corp. (INTC) - Get Report and DowDuPont Inc. DWDP. Conversely, General Electric Co. (GE) - Get Report and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) - Get Report were the leading gainers on the blue-chip index.
Elsewhere in the market, Eastman Kodak Co. (KODK) - Get Report rose 56.62% on Wednesday following a jump of 119% in the previous session after the photo company said it would shift its focus toward blockchain technology and enter the world of initial coin offerings.
Kodak said Tuesday it would launch its form of cryptocurrency, KODAKCoin, that would "empower photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management" inside its existing KODAKOne platform.
- Lennar Corp. (LEN) - Get Report rose 2.37% after the homebuilder reporting weaker-than-expected profit for its fiscal fourth quarter.
- Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) added 5.11% after the struggling retailer announced it would raise $100 million in new financing and was seeking an additional $200 million from other counterparties.
- Target Corp. (TGT) - Get Report gained 2.3% after shares of the retailer were upgraded to positive from neutral at Susquehanna Financial, and the price target was raised to $84 from $54.
- Supervalu Inc. (SVU) reported third-quarter adjusted earnings of 61 cents a share, topping forecasts of 46 cents, but sales fell short of analysts' expectations. The stock fell 13.7%.
- Berkshire Hathaway Inc. BRK.A, (BRK.B) - Get Report agreed to add two new members to its executive board in what could be the first in series of moves designed to replace the billionaire investor who heads one of the world's most famous funds. Greg Abel, 55, and Ajit Jain, 66, both of which have "Berkshire in their blood," according to Buffett, will fill the two new posts with Abel also taking on the role of vice chairman for Berkshire's non-insurance business operations and Jain assuming a similar role for its insurance operations.
European stocks tumbled with the Stoxx 600 benchmark, the region's broadest measure of share prices, falling 0.38% after breaching a two-and-a-half year high Tuesday following stronger-than-expected industrial data from Germany and the fastest decline on record for eurozone unemployment.
Asian shares finished Wednesday's session mixed.
Oil came off its highs Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that domestic crude supplies fell by 4.9 million barrels in the week ended Jan. 5, wider than the declines expected by analysts. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, gained 0.78% to $63.45 a barrel.
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