As expected, it was a quiet day on Wall Street ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, which will see markets in the US close for the day on Thursday, but with a small gain both the S&P 500 and the Dow made fresh all-time highs.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,827.7, +12.8, (+0.1%)
- S&P 500: 2,072.8, +5.8, (+0.3%)
- Nasdaq: 4,787.3, +29, (+0.6%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
1. It was a quiet day for the averages ahead of the holiday, but the markets had to digest a ton of economic data this morning, with data points covering employment, manufacturing, inflation, consumer confidence and the housing market. By making a fresh all-time high on Wednesday, the S&P 500 hit a new record close for the 47th time this year.
2. On the labor front, the weekly report on initial jobless claims showed that claims rose to 313,000 last week, up from 291,000 the prior week. Expectations were for claims to come in at 288,000. The four-week moving average of claims also rose to 294,000 from 287,000 last week, but Derek Lindsey at BNP Paribas said that while we've seen an increase in four-week trend the last three weeks, claims remain relatively low.
3. The October report on personal income and spending was released, showing that both measures rose 0.2% compared to the prior month, a bit less than expected. This report also contained the latest personal consumption expenditures reading, which showed that consumer prices rose 0.1% month-on-month in October, and 0.2% when stripping out the more volatile food and energy measures. PCE is the Federal Reserve's preferred measure of inflation.
4. Consumer confidence remained at a seven-year high, with the University of Michigan's final reading on November consumer confidence coming in at 88.8, the highest final reading since July 2007. This was, however, below expectations for a reading of 90.0 and below the preliminary 89.4 reading earlier this month.
5. Housing data disappointed on Wednesday. The pace of new home sales rose 0.7% in October to an annualized pace of 458,000 units, below the pace of 471,000 that was forecast by economists. According to the Census Bureau, in October there were 212,000 new houses for sale, representing a 5.6 month supply at the current pace of sales. The number of pending home sales also declined in October, falling 1.1% month-on-month against expectations for an increase of 0.5%.
6. The October Chicago PMI report came in at 60.8, below expectations but still indicating a solid pace of manufacturing activity in the midwest. Commenting on the report, Philip Uglow, chief economist at MNI Indicators said that following last month's sharp rise in the index, an easing wasn't a surprise, but "Overall the trend remains firm and activity looks set to pick up in Q4 from Q3."
7. Durable goods order rose 0.4% in October, an unexpected increase after two straight months of declines, and Wednesday's headline reading was much better than the 0.6% decline expected by economists. But this headline number has been volatile, and when stripping out transportation equipment from Wednesday's report, orders fell 0.9% in October.
8. Thursday is Thanksgiving in the US, so markets here will be closed, but OPEC, or the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, is set to hold its latest meeting in Vienna on Thursday. We have your full preview here, but the broad outline is that the market is looking for any indication that OPEC reaches an agreement on cutting oil production in an effort to combat falling oil prices, which have been hurt by a supply glut, among other factors.
9. Apple shares crossed the $700 billion threshold for the first time on Tuesday, but after this decline, Business Insider's Jay Yarow isn't interested in when the company will go to $800 billion, but if a $1 trillion market cap is in the cards for Apple. Hint: Apple will probably need to sell a lot more iPhones.
10. We're closing in on the end of 2014, and while there is still a month to go, here's a quick overview of how every major asset class has performed in 2014. The three biggest winners? Stocks in India, Shanghai, and the S&P 500.
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