Now that the Dow Jones Industrial Average finally set a record high after several days of stubbornness, traders looked like they might be ready to take a breather and regroup. Futures on the S&P 500 were down 0.8 points at 1342.40 Wednesday, about 1 point above fair value. Nasdaq 100 futures were falling 2 points to 1652 and were 3 points below fair value. On Tuesday, the Dow finished at 11,727.34, up 56.99 points, or 0.49% on the day, eclipsing the prior best-ever close of 11,722.98 on Jan. 14, 2000. During the session, it went to 11,758.95, an all-time intraday benchmark. The uplift was spark by a plunge in oil futures and gains of 1.9% or more in Boeing ( BA - Get Report), Wal-Mart ( WMT - Get Report) and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM - Get Report). At the end of the day, 23 of the 30 components were in positive territory. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 added 2.79 points, or 0.21%, to 1334.11, and the Nasdaq Composite tacked on 6.05 points, or 0.27%, at 2243.65. Records are always nice to reach, but the market has a short memory. Now Wall Street has to gear up for commentary from several Federal Reserve bankers during the session, including the chairman, Ben Bernanke, and the vice chairman, Donald Kohn. Lately, Fed officials have indicated that they believe the economy is moderating, but not enough to start thinking about cutting rates. At the last two meetings of policymakers, rates have been left unchanged at 5.25%. Before that, the Fed lifted its fed funds target at 17 straight meetings in a bid to keep the economy from overheating.
Crude, which has spiraled lower the past two days, was stabilizing, and recently gained 8 cents to $58.76 a barrel. Other energy contracts edged higher, and precious metals were mixed. Gold added $1.50 to $583 an ounce, and silver slipped 11 cents to $10.94 an ounce. Banc of America, following Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch a day before, cut its ratings on several energy stocks. Anadarko ( APC), Talisman Energy ( TLM), Houston Exploration and Noble Energy ( NBL - Get Report) were just a few of the names the firm hit with downgrades. Valero Energy ( VLO - Get Report) had its own problems, saying after the close of trading that its third-quarter earnings will fall short of analysts' targets because of a sharp drop in gasoline margins. Staying on the research side, Bear Stearns upgraded General Motors ( GM - Get Report) to peer-perform from underperform, but lowered its rating on Ford ( F - Get Report) to peer-perform from outperform.