by John BIERS
Global stock markets were mixed Wednesday, with Wall Street indices retreating from records even as Apple became the first US company to reach $2 trillion in market value.
After an up day for European equity bourses, US stocks appeared headed for another positive session before sliding into the red after Federal Reserve meeting minutes highlighted the weakness of the American economy.
The minutes emphasized how the US economic direction was tied to the coronavirus, which remains largely untamed in the world’s biggest economy, suggesting the need for more stimulus.
FOMC members “generally agreed that prospects for further substantial improvement in the labor market would depend on a broad and sustained reopening of businesses,” which would “depend in large part on the efficacy of health measures taken to limit the spread of the virus,” the minutes said.
The minutes “confirmed the Central Bank’s cautious outlook, with most FOMC members agreeing that the virus will continue to weigh on the economy for the rest of the year,” said Gorilla Trades strategist Ken Berman.
Analysts also pointed to profit-taking after Tuesday’s session, which saw both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq end at all-time highs.
“You’ve had such a huge run,” said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O’Hare. “It’s not all that uncommon once you’ve achieved a record high to see some backtracking.”
Apple became the first US company to reach $2 trillion in market value in the latest demonstration of how tech giants have benefited from the upheaval of the coronavirus.
The iPhone maker attained the distinction in morning trading before throttling back and concluding the session only slightly higher. The company had previously become the first giant to hit $1 trillion in market value in March 2018.
Apple’s rise comes amid a broader rally in technology shares as employees around the country shift to working at home amid the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing protocols.
Oil was essentially flat as OPEC ministers stuck to an agreement to lower oil production at a monthly meeting and emphasized the need for producers to comply with the limits.
Oil prices have returned to around their levels prior to a crash during the worst of the spring coronavirus shutdowns.
“There are some signs of gradually improving market conditions,” OPEC said in a statement.
“Nevertheless, the pace of recovery appeared to be slower than anticipated with growing risks of a prolonged wave of COVID-19,” it added, highlighting oil market “fragility… and significant uncertainties.”
– Key figures around 2050 GMT –
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.3 percent at 27,692.88 (close)
New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,374.85 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 0.6 percent at 11,146.46 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 6,111.98 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.7 percent at 12,977.33 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.8 percent at 4,977.23 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 3,317.62 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 23,110.61 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.2 percent at 3,408.13 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.7 percent at 25,178.91 (close)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1841 from $1.1931 at 2100 GMT
Dollar/yen: UP at 106.12 yen from 105.41 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3093 from $1.3239
Euro/pound: UP at 90.40 pence from 90.12 pence
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.1 percent at $42.93 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.2 percent at $45.37 per barrel
© Agence France-Presse
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