Daily market review

United States

Equities seesawed to end narrowly mixed Wednesday with earnings in focus. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.2 percent, the S&P 500 was flat, and NASDAQ composite fell 0.3 percent.

Comments from Fed Chair Jay Powell didn't move the markets as he repeated his usual dovish message and appeared to downplay concerns that fiscal stimulus would spur any early withdrawal of Fed accommodation.

Sectors were divided, with energy stocks bouncing back to provide support, along with financials, real estate, and health care. Lagging were technology and consumer discretionary stocks, with Amazon off 0.6 percent, and Tesla down 5.3 percent.

Among companies in focus, Twitter rose 13 percent on a revenues beat. Lyft, the ridesharing firm, rose 4.8 percent on an earnings beat. American Express rose 1.2 percent as analysts raised profits forecasts. On the downside, Alteryx, the software company, fell 16 percent on disappointing guidance. Akamai Technologies, the cloud services, company, fell 11 percent on slowing growth, and Cisco fell 2.6 percent on disappointing guidance.

In US economic data, consumer prices rose 0.3 percent in January, in line with expectations, leaving the annual rate unchanged at 1.4 percent which was 1 tenth below expectations.

These price data reflect observations at 4:00 PM US ET: Dated Brent spot crude oil rose 13 cents to US$61.26 while spot gold rose US$7.02 to US$1,842.78. The US dollar was mixed vs. major currencies. The US Treasury 30-year bond yield was down 3 basis points at 1.92 percent while the 10-year note yield was down 3 basis point at 1.13 percent.


Early weakness on Wall Street depressed European equities slightly Wednesday as the market edged back from recent gains. The Europe-wide STOXX 600 eased 0.3 percent, the German DAX slipped 0.6 percent, the French CAC eased 0.4 percent, and the UK FTSE-100 was off 0.1 percent.

Covid news remained in focus on reports that Germany was likely to extend lockdowns. On the positive side, good news on vaccine efficacy and new Covid treatments provided support.

Sectors were mixed, with technology, retail, and personal & household goods lagging while banks, insurance, and basic resources outperformed.

Among companies in focus, Maersk, the Danish shipper, fell 7 percent on an earnings miss. Heineken, the brewer, fell 2.7 percent, and ABN AMRO fell 1 percent on disappointing results. LVMH fell 1.4 percent after the luxury brand suspended Rihanna's Fenty fashion collection due to poor market conditions.

On the positive side, Thyssenkrupp, the German industrial conglomerate, gained 8.5 percent on a narrower-than-expected loss, and Societe Generale rose 3.9 percent after an earnings beat.

Asia Pacific

Recovery hopes and good corporate results boosted Asian markets Wednesday, with mostly upbeat Chinese economic data helping.

China's Shanghai composite gained 1.0 percent, with support from news that Chinese producer prices rose 0.3 percent on the year in December after dropping 0.4 percent in December. This was the fastest pace of increase since May 2019, and pointed to better profits for Chinese industrial firms. Additionally, news of strong Chinese loan growth allayed concerns about tightening financial conditions. Yet on the downside, Chinese CPI figures came in below expectations.

Hong Kong's markets tracked China higher, with the Hang Seng index up 1.9 percent, led by a rally in financials. Among companies in focus, Tencent, the online commerce leader, rose 2.8 percent.

Japanese markets edged up with the Nikkei up 0.2 percent and the broader Topix up 0.3 percent on positive earnings results. Automakers Honda, up 5 percent, and Toyota, up 1.7 percent, gained after earnings beats, along with FujiFilm, up 4.7 percent.

South Korean markets firmed, with the KOSPI up 0.5 percent, on news that Korea approved rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca. Among companies outperforming, Kakao, the internet leader, rallied 6 percent, LG Electronics gained 4 percent, and Hyundai Motor was up 3.6 percent.

Australia firmed, with the All Ordinaries index up 0.5 percent, with materials and financials outperforming. Among companies in focus, Commonwealth Bank fell 1.5 percent on an earnings miss. Online buy-now-pay-later companies remained in vogue, with Zip Co. up 12 percent, and Afterpay up 4 percent.

Looking ahead*

On Thursday in North America, the US jobless claims report is on tap.

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