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Stock market news live updates: Stocks erase gains after reaching record highs

·Reporter
·11 min read
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Stocks turned mostly lower Wednesday and the S&P 500 logged a second day of declines.

[Click here to read what’s moving markets heading into Thursday, February 11]

The Dow ended a tick above the flat line while both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended lower after rising to reach record highs shortly after market open. However, all three major indexes have performed strongly for February to date, as has the small-cap Russell 2000, which reached its own record high before turning slightly lower.

Companies that reported quarterly results in the last day largely topped expectations, adding to the pile of estimates-topping reports for last quarter.

Lyft’s stock (LYFT) surged more than 8% after the company said it could be profitable as soon as the third quarter this year, or a full quarter ahead of earlier estimates, thanks to rigorous cost-cutting measures. Shares of Twitter (TWTR) jumped 9% after the company’s sales grew more than expected and its profit beat estimates, though it warned that user growth will likely slow in 2021 after a pandemic-era boom.

So far, companies comprising more than three-quarters of the S&P 500’s market capitalization have reported fourth-quarter results. In aggregate, these results have topped expectations by nearly 17%, and 80% of companies beat their own projections, according to an analysis by Credit Suisse’s Jonathan Golub.

But even amid strong earnings and supportive monetary and fiscal policy, some strategists have begun to debate whether the recent leg higher in markets can be sustained in the very near-term as sentiment starts to get frothy.

“We’ve seen a very strong phase of what I’d call fast markets: A strong rally the last six months in risk assets across the board,” Joseph Little, HSBC Global Asset Management global chief strategist, told Yahoo Finance. “And what that means in practical terms for investors is that a lot more is now discounted. And the story around recovery, around faster economic improvements, around the vaccines is now, at this point, well-known to investors and to other market participants. And that poses the question of what could happen to markets next.”

“My suspicion is that we’re at a point now where, as more is discounted, it becomes harder and harder for the news to really support the market further and further. And that creates what I call a hypersensitivity,” he added. “It means markets are rather vulnerable if the news flow becomes a little bit more difficult, if the news flow begins to disappoint. I’d still be positive as we look out over a six month view. But it could mean that after the run that we’ve seen, we’re in line for a phase of maybe a bit more consolidation.”

Others, however, have remained more upbeat.

“It’s clear that there’s a lot of optimism out there, but I would argue that there are good reasons to be optimistic. Keep in mind that just six or eight months ago, there was an expectation that it would take much longer, if at all, to develop a vaccine that protects against COVID-19,” Kristina Hooper, Invesco chief global market strategist, told Yahoo Finance. “The fact that we have effective vaccines, extremely effective vaccines that are now being distributed means that there is a light at the end of this tunnel and it is a bright light, hence a lot of optimism. Especially given we have a very accommodative Fed, and we also have a decent amount of fiscal stimulus and potentially more coming.”

4:03 p.m. ET: Stocks end mixed after reaching record intraday highs; S&P 500 declines for back-to-back sessions

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:03 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -1.33 (-0.03%) to 3,909.90

  • Dow (^DJI): +62.57 (+0.20%) to 31,438.40

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -35.16 (-0.25%) to 13,972.53

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.14 (+0.24%) to $58.50 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$4.10 (+0.22%) to $1,841.60 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.4 bps to yield 1.1330%

2:17 p.m. ET: Fed Chair Powell commits to keeping monetary policy easy until those hardest-hit by pandemic recover

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said during a speech Wednesday that the central bank would focus on achieving maximum employment in the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and as a result, would not tweak monetary policy or lift rates until a broad-based rebound takes place.

“Maximum employment is a broad and inclusive goal. This change reflects our appreciation for the benefits of a strong labor market, particularly for many in low- and moderate-income communities,” Powell said in prepared remarks Wednesday. “We will not tighten monetary policy solely in response to a strong labor market.”

Powell also reiterated that bolstering the U.S. economy and labor force participation would require both monetary and fiscal stimulus.

“Given the number of people who have lost their jobs and the likelihood that some will struggle to find work in the post-pandemic economy, achieving and sustaining maximum employment will require more than supportive monetary policy,” he said. “It will require a society-wide commitment, with contributions from across government and the private sector.”

12:39 p.m. ET: Stocks hold lower

Here’s where markets were trading Wednesday afternoon:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -10.22 points (-0.26%) to 3,901.01

  • Dow (^DJI): -37.05 points (-0.12%) to 31,338.78

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -61.63 points (-0.44%) to 13,946.77

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.35 (+0.6%) to $58.71 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$4.10 (+0.22%) to $1,841.60 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.1 bps to yield 1.136%

11:52 a.m. ET: Analysts get more bullish on Twitter after strong 4Q advertising sales beat, sparking wave of price target revisions

Wall Street firms are getting more bullish on Twitter (TWTR) after the company posted much stronger than expected fourth-quarter sales, in a testament to the broader pick-up in online advertising as well as the success of the company’s efforts to revamp its advertising products. Advertising revenue surged 31% to $1.15 billion during the fourth quarter, accelerating from the 15% ad sales growth in the prior quarter. However, the company did warn its user growth would likely slow this year.

Here’s what some analysts said about Twitter’s results:

  • JPMorgan’s Doug Anmuth (price target raised to $77 from $65): “On the heels of our December upgrade, TWTR remains one of our top 5 stock picks in 2021 (along w/GOOGL, FB, PTON, LYFT) and we believe our bull case is playing out mostly as expected—sharp ad recovery, continued solid engagement, ad product prioritization & innovation, underlying activist efforts helping to improve operational discipline, and the upcoming February 25 Analyst Day as an additional potential catalyst for shares.”

  • Cowen’s John Blackledge (price target raised to $58 from $48): “Twitter is a popular social platform, with rising monetization and operating income, although competitive concerns and valuation drive our Market Perform view. Twitter's user growth has consistently been in the low double digits, and we expect DAUs (EOP) to grow modestly through 2026.”

  • MKM Partners (price target raised to $73 from $60): “We believe TWTR's innovation engine has finally started to crank up new features and products, and believe that there are several low-hanging fruits for Twitter to attract self-service ad dollars.”

9:31 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher

Here’s where markets were trading shortly after market open:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +18.25 points (+0.47%) to 3,923.75

  • Dow (^DJI): +122 points (+0.39%) to 31,400.00

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +62 points (+0.45%) to 13,742.25

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.03 (+0.05%) to $58.39 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$15.60 (+0.85%) to $1,853.10 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.3 bps to yield 1.1570%

9:03 a.m. ET: General Motors tops 4Q estimates, but says 2021 earnings will be hit by chip shortages

General Motors (GM) reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that topped expectations, though the car-maker said its profit would be hit in the current fiscal year due to chip shortages.

Adjusted earnings were $1.93 per share on revenue of $37.52 billion, with both metrics better than the $1.57 per share on revenue of $35.88 billion expected.

Chip shortages, which have rattled other companies in the auto industry as well, will cut operating profit by between $1.5 billion to $2.0 billion in 2021, GM added, and will also impact production and cash flow. Earlier this month, GM already announced it had extended a halt on production at three North American plants due to chip shortages.

8:40 a.m. ET: Consumer prices increased mildly in January as inflation remained tame

A core measure of consumer price changes increased less than expected in January, according to the Labor Department’s monthly report Wednesday, as inflationary trends remained tame during the ongoing pandemic.

The headline consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.3% in January over December, matching estimates, according to Bloomberg consensus data. However, excluding more volatile food and energy prices, the CPI was unchanged, following an unchanged reading in December as well.

Over last year, CPI excluding food and energy prices rose 1.4%, decelerating from December’s 1.6% increase and coming in below estimates for rise a 1.5%.

7:24 a.m. ET: Mortgage applications dropped 4.1% last week as interest rates hit the highest level since November

Mortgage applications dropped by 4.1% during the week ending February 5 following a jump of more than 8% during the prior period, according to the Mortgage Bankers’ Association’s weekly report. The drop came as interest rates started to creep higher, pressuring demand, though overall housing market activity remained sharply higher compared to a year ago.

Beneath the headline mortgage application index, refinances fell by 4% from a week earlier, but remained 46% higher than the same week in 2020. Purchases fell by 5% on a seasonally adjusted basis. Unadjusted, however, purchases were up 2% week-on-week and were 17% higher than the year-ago period.

“Mortgage rates have increased in four of the first six weeks of 2021, with jumbo rates being the only loan type that saw a decline last week. Despite some weekly volatility, Treasury rates have been driven higher by expectations of faster economic growth as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues,” Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a statement.

“With the 30-year fixed rate increasing to 2.96%– a high not seen since last November – refinances declined, and their share of total applications dipped to the lowest level in three months,” he added. “Government refinance applications did buck the trend and increase, and overall activity was still 46% higher than a year ago. Demand for refinances is still very strong this winter.”

7:17 a.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures extend gains overnight, pointing to a higher open

Here’s where markets were trading, as of 7:17 a.m. ET Wednesday morning:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,917.75, up 12.25 points or 0.31%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 31,360.00, up 82 points or 0.26%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,726.5, up 46.25 points or 0.34%

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.27 (+0.46%) to $58.63 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$3.20 (+0.17%) to $1,840.70 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.8 bps to yield 1.165%

6:09 p.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures hold near record levels

Here’s where markets were trading Tuesday evening as overnight trading kicked off:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): 3,911.00, up 5.5 points or 0.14%

  • Dow futures (YM=F): 31,312.00, up 34 points or 0.11%

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): 13,694.50, up 14.25 points or 0.1%

A man wears a protective mask as he walks past the New York Stock Exchange on the corner of Wall and Broad streets during the coronavirus outbreak in New York City, New York, U.S., March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A man wears a protective mask as he walks past the New York Stock Exchange on the corner of Wall and Broad streets during the coronavirus outbreak in New York City, New York, U.S., March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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