Stocks seesawed Wednesday, finishing mixed in an improvement that followed several days of steep losses fueled by concerns about how interest rates staying higher for longer could impact the US economy.
The stock gains came in spite of a continued rise in the price of oil, which hit fresh 2023 highs on Wednesday, as well as an uptick in Treasury yields. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX) hit levels not seen in more than 15 years, moving above 4.6%. The recent surge in yields has weighed on risk markets like stocks.
The moves Wednesday followed a brutal sell-off the day before that saw the Dow post its worst day since March. Waning consumer confidence and a looming government shutdown brought more worry to investors already fretting about the Federal Reserve's message that rates likely haven't peaked yet.
Stocks have fallen in recent days as the market increasingly took onboard that borrowing costs would stay elevated for longer than hoped. But the signs of a recovery suggest some investors believe the shakeout may have been overdone, according to analysts.
Meanwhile, the prospect of a US government shutdown is increasingly preying on nerves as the weekend deadline for a budget deal nears. Late on Tuesday, the Senate put forward a 79-page bill to keep the government funded until Nov. 17, likely the last chance of averting closure.
In individual stocks, Costco shares jumped after the retailer missed on same-store sales expectations but saw its earnings beat estimates.
Stocks mostly recover losses, close mixed
After seesawing on both sides of the flat line, stocks closed Wednesday's trading session mixed as investors continue to digest what the Fed's higher for longer stance on interest rates means for markets.
The 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX) rose to 4.66%. Meanwhile, oil hit new 2023 highs. West Texas Intermediate (CL=F) jumped more than 3% to settle at $93.68 per barrel. Brent International (BZ=F) futures also rose on Wednesday, trading more than 2.5% higher to $96.55 per barrel.
The Fed has 'won' in its quest for a soft landing: BofA's Brian Moynihan
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan dished on the state of the US economy and the Fed's reasoning behind a higher for longer interest rate strategy.
Bank of America (BAC) CEO Brian Moynihan says the Federal Reserve “has won” against inflation, but pressures like the strength of the US consumer may keep interest rates higher for longer.
Speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday, Moynihan said the Federal Reserve needed to tame inflation by slowing the spending pace of the US consumer—and according to the bank's own data, that strategy has worked.
“If you're trying to engineer a soft landing … or something close to that, in balance, when you look at the current data, they’ve won,” Moynihan said of the Federal Reserve.
Bank of America’s stock rose 0.44% Wednesday as of 3:00 p.m. ET. This year, the stock has lagged peers, falling 17.5% since the beginning of January.
Moynihan said that BOA's checking account database of 68 million customers shows that US consumers have “slowed down” and are currently on pace to spend at pre pandemic rates “consistent with 2016, 2017, 2018.”
“They knew that they came late. They caught up fast. But now they have an equal and opposite problem. They’ve got to be careful they don’t go too far,” he added.
Moynihan said Bank of America expects the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates “one more time” in November, followed by three rate cuts in 2024 and four in 2025. The US, he added, “won’t have a recession,” but “very slow [GDP] growth” for the second and third quarters of next year. Quarterly GDP, he said, would climb back above 1% by the end of next year.
Meta reveals Quest 3 headset
Meta stock was down about 2% as the tech giant announced its latest headset technology.
Meta (META) CEO Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at his company’s Meta Connect conference on Wednesday, unveiling two new high-tech headsets: the AR/VR-powered Meta Quest 3 and the Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses.
Both headsets are important steps in Meta’s push to become a metaverse-first company. The Quest 3 offers a glimpse at how Meta will blend the virtual and physical worlds, while the smart glasses show how it can pack high-end technology into a lightweight pair of glasses.
Meta, however, is spending a fortune on getting these devices out the door. The company’s Reality Labs business segment loses billions of dollars each year, including $3.7 billion in the most recent quarter. If Meta is ever going to be a metaverse company, it needs these headsets to succeed.
I spent time with both the Quest 3 and smart glasses during a preview event ahead of Wednesday’s show and came away impressed by the improvements Meta has made to them. But the company has stiff competition from traditional gaming platforms, not to mention other headsets, including Apple’s (AAPL) upcoming Vision Pro.
Starting at $499, the Meta Quest 3 boasts a slew of upgrades over the Quest 2 including a thinner design and sharper visuals. The $299 Ray-Ban Meta smart glasses, meanwhile, sport a new look and upgraded cameras for better photo and video capture. The Quest 3 hits online and brick & mortar stores Oct. 10, while the glasses go on sale Oct. 17.
Unlike prior versions of Meta’s Quest headsets, the Quest 3 is designed with both virtual reality and augmented reality in mind. To that end, the company has improved the headset’s passthrough mode, which uses a series of external cameras to generate a live feed of the world around you on the Quest 3’s internal displays.
The idea is to let users interact with digital objects that appear as though they are a part of the real world. During one demo, an alien ship crashed through the ceiling of the room I was standing in, landing directly on the floor in front of me. Several other aliens began breaking through the room’s walls, revealing an alien world behind them.
Overall, the visuals were sharp and colorful. Meta says the Quest 3’s display resolution is 30% better than Quest 2’s. And that improvement was clear during one demo in which Meta showed how a game looked on the Quest 2 and then on the Quest 3. On-screen text was easier to read, and small flourishes like the texture of a control panel popped more. The passthrough feature also adds a new dimension of possibilities to the Quest 3’s capabilities.
But the graphics still don’t match anything you’d see on modern game consoles or PCs. And at $499, the Quest 3 is competing on price with the likes of Sony’s (SONY) PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox Series X, both of which are well into their respective lifecycles and have a collection of impressive games under their belts.
Trending tickers Wednesday afternoon
Costco (COST) stock led the Yahoo Finance trending tickers page on Wednesday following the company's quarterly earnings release after the bell on Tuesday. Costco reported adjusted earnings per share of $4.86, above Wall Street expectations of $4.7 while revenue of $78.94 billion also topped estimates for $77.72 billion, per Bloomberg data.
NextEra Energy (NEE) stock tumbled nearly 8% as the wind and solar operator revised its growth expectations down for the next few years. The company is now targeting limited partner distribution per unit growth of 5% to 8% down from its previously guided range of 12% to 15%.
Palantir (PLTR) shares rose more than 4% after the tech company inked a $250 million contract for artificial intelligence services with the US Army.
Commodities hit the trending ticker page on Wednesday as oil prices pressed higher. West Texas Intermediate (CL=F) gained nearly 4% to roughly $93.50 while Brent (BZ=F) ticked up nearly 3% to nearly $97 a barrel.
Stocks lower in afternoon trade
Stocks hovered near session lows just before 1 p.m. ET as treasury yields and oil prices pressed higher.
There's a 90% chance of a government shutdown according to Goldman Sachs
Sunday Oct. 1 looms as the deadline for a government shutdown that could delay key economic data used by the Federal Reserve to make decisions on monetary policy. And Goldman Sachs doesn't see things being resolved by then.
Yahoo Finance's Ines Ferre and Ben Werschkul report:
The chances that the government avoids a shutdown in the next three days are not looking good, according to Goldman Sachs economists.
“A shutdown this year has looked likely for several months, and we now think the odds have risen to 90%,” Jan Hatzius, chief economist and head of global research at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a note to investors.
Hatzius and his team say the most likely scenario is the government will shut down on Oct. 1.
On Tuesday evening, the Senate released what is likely a last-chance deal to avert a closure. The 79-page bill would keep the government open until Nov. 17. It is designed to allow more time for negotiations over a broader spending deal that Congress must pass before the end of the year.
“While there is still a chance that Congress can reach a last-minute deal to extend funding past Sep. 30, there has been little progress made and there is little time left,” wrote Hatzius. “In the seemingly unlikely event Congress passes a short-term extension, we would still expect a shutdown sometime later in Q4.”
Even if Washington's drama this week is resolved, lawmakers face an even more consequential deadline on Dec. 31 when they need to enact spending bills for the entire year.
If the government shuts down on Oct. 1, Hatzius says, a fast reopening seems unlikely "as political positions become more deeply entrenched. Instead, political pressure to reopen the government is likely to gradually build."
It's an assessment that has been shared by other observers with a worst case scenario for the economy being a protracted one.
Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi has even floated the idea of a shutdown that stretches throughout the entire fourth quarter, smashing the all-time record of 35 days and cutting 1.2 percentage points from fourth quarter growth.
The S&P 500 is oversold, Bespoke says
As fears of higher interest rates for longer than expected have permeated through markets over the past week, the S&P 500 has taken a nosedive. The benchmark index is down nearly 3% in the last five days.
Analysis out from Bespoke Investment Group shows the S&P 500 closed Tuesday's trading day more than 2.5% standard deviations below it's 50 day moving average, an oversold signal, according to the firm. The major average has only seen similar oversold periods twice since the start of 2020. One instance came amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the other came in February 2022, just before the market sell-off.
"While deeply oversold levels usually see at least a short-term bounce, they don’t always lead to sustainable rallies," Bespoke's team wrote on Wednesday. "While the oversold conditions during COVID were followed by a long and enduring rally, the bounce from the Jan 2022 oversold conditions was fleeting as the market rolled over again in early February."
Stocks open higher
Stocks were back in the green on Wednesday morning after falling the past few trading sessions as fears over higher interest rates and a looming government shutdown have consumed investor sentiment.
At the market open, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) popped 0.4%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) gained 0.2% or about 75 points. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) led the major averages, rising 0.5%. The 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX) was hovering near its highest levels since 2007 over the past few days but retreated slightly on Wednesday to 4.49%
Amazon, Apple, and Costco: Stocks trending in premarket trading
Here are some of the stocks leading Yahoo Finance’s trending tickers page in premarket trading on Wednesday:
Amazon.com (AMZN): Shares in the e-commerce company were down. On Tuesday the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 17 state attorneys general sued Amazon, alleging that its dominant online retail store Amazon.com is illegally monopolizing two markets. The stock is down more than 9% over the past week.
UBS (UBS): Shares in the investment bank fell 3% after a report that the U.S. Department of Justice has stepped up its probe into UBS over suspected compliance failures that allowed Russian clients to evade sanctions.
Apple (AAPL): Apple shares ticked higher. China's cyberspace regulator released on Wednesday names of the first batch of mobile app stores that have completed filing business details to regulators. Apple’s name was missing from the list.
Costco (COST): Shares in Costco were down over 1% in the premarket. On Tuesday the retailer made a decision to hold off on a membership fee hike. Costco's broader earnings largely fell in line with Wall Street expectations.