US stocks closed mixed Wednesday, with consumer staples lagging, as investors digested the release of the Federal Reserve's Beige Book.
The S&P 500 slipped less than a point after briefly trading higher, with consumer staples falling about 1%. It closed down 0.01% at 2,186.
The Nasdaq composite hit a new all-time high intraday and again for the close, posting a four-day winning streak. The Nasdaq, partly powered by a very late albeit modest gain by Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares in the wake of the launch of new products iPhone 7 and a revamped Apple Watch Series 2, managed to end the session up 0.15% at 5,283. That’s a record high. Earlier, it struck an intraday high of 5,287.
The Beige Book, an important indicator on the state of the U.S. economy and as such, is a critical tool for the Fed in making key decisions, showed the Fed sees moderate wage growth in the coming months.
The S&P Midcap 400 ended up 0.4% at 1,581 and the S&P Smallcap 600 up 0.7% at 765. The bourse benefited from a surge higher in oil prices. The West Texas Intermediate, the US oil benchmark was up 2.9% at $46.14.
Top line US stocks were lower at midsession on Wednesday, even oil prices rose.
The West Texas Intermediate was up 1.3% to $45.42 but it was not enough to keep the tickers pointing north.
The Nasdaq Composite, which earlier was the only top line ticker higher, also succumbed to downside and was last seen down 0.1% at 5,271.
One of its components, and the world’s biggest publicly-listed company Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares were lower, even after the announcements of a the iPhone 7 and updated Apple Watch, by 0.2% to $107.54.
The company said the new Apple Watch is not only water resistant up to 50 meters, but up to 50 percent faster. Apple also said that the Series 2 will be available in ceramic, a new material.
Shortly after the CEO Tim Cook took the stage, Apple revealed new iPhone features on Twitter, including new cameras, water resistance, stereo speakers and longer battery life. The tweets were promptly deleted.
Meanwhile, the S&P 500 index was down 0.1% at 2,183.
Among risers, Houston-based driller Apache Corp (NYSE:APA) announced a big new oil and gas discovery in West Texas. The firm believes there could be 3bln barrels of oil and 75tln cubic feet of natural gas in an area it calls Alpine High. The company announced its discovery Wednesday after two years of drilling in the largely undeveloped region.
Apache shares were up 7% at $55.29.
The S&P Midcap 400 was flat at 1,576 while the S&P Smallcap 600 added 0.3% to 762 and was led by Scientific Games (NASDAQ:SGMS), a developer of technology-based products and services and associated content for worldwide gaming, lottery and interactive markets, up 17.8% to $10.35 after the company said it was positioning itself to accelerate growth in its interactive business.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was making headway but the other two benchmarks were in the red in early deals.
In contrast, the S&P 500 was down a couple of points at 2,185 and the Dow was 30 points in the hole at 18,508.
The mid cap-focused S&P 400 was barely changed, down just over a point at 1,574, while the Russell 2,000 index, which tracks small caps, was four points firmer at 1,257.
Leading the way on Nasdaq was Retrophin Inc (NASDAQ:RTRX), after it announced positive top-line results from its Phase 2 “DUET” study of sparsentan for the treatment of a rare kidney disorder.
Te shares surged 39% to US$22.69.
Not far behind it was Cogentix Medical Inc (NASDAQ:CGNT), which jumped 37% to US$1.6428 as privately-owned Accelmed agreed to buy US$25mln of shares at US$1.55 a pop.
Going the other way was Sprouts Farmers Market Inc (NASDAQ:SFM), and not just because almost everyone hates Brussels sprouts.
The natural and organic foods seller shed 14% at US$19.8 as it provided updated third quarter and full-year earnings guidance.
The market did not like the new numbers any more than most people like sprouts.
Stocks are set to open softer, on what looks like a quiet day for economic indicators, unless the Fed’s Beige Book excites you.
The company is expected to unveil the latest iteration of its smartphone cash cow. The Apple zealots will no doubt buy the phone as a matter of course but the market is interested in knowing whether the iPhone 7 will appeal enough to persuade the agnostics to upgrade or switch to Apple.
“Apple’s profits are heavily weighted on the iPhone, but I remain sceptical that today’s announcement will reignite the upward momentum on their share price,” divulged Vinay Sharma, a senior trader at Ayondo Markets.
“Their share price closed yesterday at $107.68, and an exciting release may see the shares test recent highs just above the $110 mark; however, the last year has been quite stale by Apple’s standard and it would take something revolutionary to kick start a move towards the all-time high at $134.
“With such speculation already in the public domain about the new iPhone, ultimately if Apple only delivers just this then I envisage there will be volatility in the market and we could see their share price tumble,” Sharma added.
The benchmark S&P 500 index is tipped to open three points easier at 2,183, while the narrowly-based Dow Jones is, according to spread betting quotes, set to open around 18,513, having closed at 18,538 last night.
Aside from the inevitable brouhaha over Apple, investors are likely to be focused on accident-prone fast food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc (NYSE:CMG), which was up more than 5% in pre-market trading after activist investor Bill Ackman revealed he had built up a 9.9% stake through his Pershing Square hedge fund.