Stocks held mixed on Wednesday as crude oil bounced between negative and positive territory.
The S&P 500 was down 0.22%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3%, and the Nasdaq rose 0.33%. The Dow was set to snap a seven-day winning streak that propelled the index to record closing highs for the past four sessions.
Crude oil fluctuated on Wednesday, caught between worries over a growing supply glut in the U.S. and hopes of a production freeze from some of the world's largest oil producers. The Energy Information Administration reported that 5.3 million barrels were added to stockpiles in the week ended Nov. 11, more than double the 2.4 million barrels a week earlier. Analysts anticipated 1.5 million barrels to have been added. A separate reading from the American Petroleum Institute showed stockpiles rising by 3.7 million barrels over the past week.
Reports Russia's Energy Minister Alexander Novak had thrown his support behind a deal among major oil producers boosted hopes of a solution to global oversupply. Reuters reported that Novak suggested higher chances of a production freeze agreement among Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Oil had surged to three-week highs on Tuesday on renewed hopes for a deal. OPEC is set to meet in Vienna on Nov. 30 to discuss a possible arrangement.
"The petroleum market continues to adjust its expectations for a possible OPEC production cut," Tim Evans, energy futures specialist at Citi, wrote in a note. "We're still not seeing concrete progress on narrowing the gaps on specific member allocations. In other words, everyone is agreed that others should cut, but that's clearly not going to be enough to get a deal done."
West Texas Intermediate crude was down 0.26% to $45.71 a barrel on Wednesday.
The U.S. dollar continued to benefit from the prospects of a Trump administration. The ICE U.S. Dollar Index added 0.34% to 100.48, on track for its eighth day in the green. The measure moved as high as 100.53 earlier in the session, its best level since April 2003.
Industrial production in the U.S. was unchanged at 104.2 in October. Economists had anticipated a 0.1% increase. Motor vehicles and parts increased, while a drop in natural gas production pushed utilities output lower.
Producer prices last month also were unchanged, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Wednesday. Economists anticipated prices to increase 0.3%. Core producer prices, excluding food and energy, fell 0.1%. Core prices rose 1.6% over the past 12 months. The inflation outlook has recently been revised as investors bet that proposed infrastructure spending plans from President-elect Donald Trump will quicken the pace.
"The surprising U.S. election outcome has substantially altered the economic outlook, with prospects for stronger growth and faster inflation in the medium-term," Wells Fargo economists wrote in a note. "We agree and expect PPI inflation to pick up from its current sluggish pace."
U.S. homebuilder sentiment remained unchanged in November, according to the latest reading from the National Association of Home Builders. The housing market index held steady at 63, as analysts had anticipated. Current sales conditions and sales expectations for the next six months came in at 69.
An interest rate hike in December is looking more and more likely after Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard joined the chorus of Fed members leaning toward an end-of-year increase. Bullard noted that the Fed's monetary policy outlook has not changed following Donald Trump's presidential victory.
"A single policy rate increase, possibly in December, may be sufficient to move monetary policy to a neutral setting," Bullard said in a speech in London.
The chances of a December rate hike currently sit at 90%, according to CME Group fed funds futures. The likelihood has risen since the Fed opted to leave rates unchanged at their November meeting, but strongly telegraphed a December move in its statement.
In earnings news, Lowe's (LOW) tumbled 3% after falling short of third-quarter earnings and revenue estimates. The home-improvement retailer earned an adjusted 88 cents a share compared to expectations of 96 cents. Same-store sales growth of 2.7% missed analysts' 3% target, while sales of $15.74 billion came in below consensus of $15.84 billion.
Target (TGT) surged more than 6% after exceeding quarterly estimates and raising its outlook. Third-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.04 a share breezed past consensus of 83 cents. Same-store sales declined 0.2%, far better than an anticipated 1% drop. The retailer expects same-store sales over the holiday-shopping quarter within a range of a 1% drop to 1% gain. Target had previously targeted down 2% to flat.
BP (BP) announced plans to cut as many as 80 jobs at its Whiting, Indiana refinery. The refinery has an output of 413,000 barrels per day. The cuts total around 3% to 4% of the refinery's workforce.
Disney (DIS) was upgraded to buy from hold at Deutsche Bank. The firm has more confidence in the cable and consumer products business.
Fossil (FOSL) was upgraded to overweight with a $42 price target at Pacific Crest. Analysts noted that there's strong momentum in wearables.
Lululemon Athletica (LULU) was downgraded to neutral from outperform at Credit Suisse. Analysts at Credit Suisse cited an increase in "markdown intensity."