Wall Street dips after two-day run as energy rally stalls

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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks dipped on Wednesday, in the wake of a two-day rally for the S&P 500, as oil prices declined and labor market data disappointed.

The ADP National Employment Report showed private employers added 213,000 jobs in January, short of the 225,000 estimate.

Oil prices declined after a four-day surge of nearly 20 percent as a new build in U.S. crude stockpiles put a global glut back in focus. U.S. crude CLc1 was down 5.1 percent to $50.37 and Brent was off 3.6 percent to $55.83. The S&P energy index .SPNY lost 1.4 percent.

“We’ve had an enormous rally in oil the past couple of days. Today it’s down, so that definitely seems to be it,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

“Given that we’ve had a huge rally in the S&P the last couple of days it wouldn’t surprise me to see a relatively flat day, which is kind of what we’ve got.”

Separate reports on the services sector showed growth, with both financial data firm Markit’s final January reading and data from the Institute for Supply Management topping expectations.

Merck (MRK.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) shares lost 4 percent to $58.57 as the biggest drag on the Dow after the drugmaker reported slightly disappointing fourth quarter sales and predicted 2015 earnings below analyst forecasts.

But Disney (DIS.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) helped keep the Dow in positive territory, up 7.2 percent to $100.88 after quarterly profit topped Wall Street’s estimates.

The S&P 500 gained 2.8 percent over the past two sessions as oil prices bounced and on hopes of a Greek debt deal, but the index has been a trading range of 1,972 to 2,093 since mid-December and is nearly flat since Dec. 31. Despite the tight range, equities have been more volatile in 2015, with the daily trading range often double its average over the past year.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 28.39 points, or 0.16 percent, to 17,694.79, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 4.42 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,045.61 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 14.85 points, or 0.31 percent, to 4,712.89.

Gilead Sciences (GILD.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) shares dropped 9.5 percent to $96.99, dragging the Nasdaq lower. The drugmaker said it is offering steeper-than-expected discounts on its hepatitis C drugs to health insurers and other group payers who had complained about the price.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) slumped 7.6 percent to $671.50. Sales growth at established restaurants slowed in the fourth quarter and slightly missed Wall Street’s estimate.

According to Thomson Reuters data, of the 273 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 73.3 percent have topped expectations, above the 69 percent beat rate for the past four quarters.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,738 to 1,161, for a 1.50-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,390 issues fell and 1,120 advanced, for a 1.24-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 27 new 52-week highs and 2 lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 50 new highs and 18 lows.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)

 

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