In a slow trading day on Wall Street, investors were content to stand pat after two consecutive days of triple digit moves in the Dow. The markets are primarily focused on corporate earnings reports while keeping an eye out for any signs that the European debt crisis may be flaring up again. The Dow and S&P 500 recorded very small gains while the Nasdaq Composite fell slightly.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 7 points, or 0.05 percent, to 13,986.
The S&P 500 added less than a point, or 0.05 percent, to 1,512.
The Nasdaq lost around 3 points on the day, or 0.10 percent, to finish at 3,168.
Crude oil prices moved slightly higher on Wednesday. Late in the day, NYMEX crude futures, the U.S. benchmark, were up 0.09 percent to $96.73. Brent futures had risen 0.31 percent to $116.88. Natural gas prices climbed a little over 1 percent to $3.43 on the session.
Precious metals prices were mixed on the day with gold rising slightly and silver falling slightly. Near the close of equity trading, COMEX gold futures had risen 0.28 percent to $1,678 while silver was down roughly 0.20 percent to $31.82. Copper futures were last trading down 0.57 percent.
In the agricultural complex, corn fell around 1 percent while wheat futures were last trading up better than 0.50 percent. In soft commodities, cocoa, coffee, sugar, and orange juice futures were all down more than 1 percent with sugar falling 2 percent.
Late in the day, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) was up 0.65 percent to $116.73 as investors moved money into bonds. The buying pressure caused yields to fall.
The 2-Year note yield was unchanged at 0.25 percent, but 5 and 10-Year Note yields lost 3 basis points to 0.84 percent and 1.97 percent, respectively. The 30-Year Bond yield also declined 3 basis points to 3.18 percent.
The euro fell against the U.S. Dollar on the day, which may have limited risk appetite on Wednesday. The EUR/USD pair was last trading down 0.43 percent to $1.3525.
The greenback was generally higher on the day, with the PowerShares DB US Dollar Bullish ETF (UUP) trading up around 0.30 percent heading into the close of equities.
The dollar fell against the Yen, with the USD/JPY down 0.39 percent. The Yen has weakened dramatically against the greenback in recent months. The only other significant mover on the day was the AUD/USD which fell 0.67 percent.
Volatility and Volume
The VIX fell slightly on Wednesday, losing roughly 1.50 percent to 13.52. Overall volatility expectations remain very low.
With volatility being low, volume continues to be below the 3-month moving average. Around 112 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) shares traded hands on the session versus a 3-month average of 138 million. Stock Movers
Take Two Interactive Software (TTWO), a video game publisher, jumped 14 percent after strong third-quarter earnings.
Shutterfly (SFLY) surged more than 20 percent on Wednesday after strong fourth-quarter earnings and guidance.
Online game developer Zynga (ZNGA) rose almost 9 percent after reporting a surprise profit in its most recent quarter.
Shares of logistics company C.H. Robinson (CHRW) lost roughly 10 percent after releasing its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report.
Biotechnology firm Elan (ELN) plunged 10 percent after the company announced that it was selling its 50 percent stake in multiple-sclerosis drug Tysabri to Biogen Idec (BIIB) for $3.25 billion. Biogen shares added 2 percent on the news.
Retailer Ralph Lauren's (RL) third-quarter earnings were up 28 percent, sending RL shares around 6 percent higher on the session.
Chipotle (CMG) climbed nearly 6 percent after the company posted respectable fourth-quarter earnings.
Video-game retailer GameStop (GME) fell 6 percent on profit taking after a strong three-day rally.
Oil and gas exploration company Bill Barrett (BBG) jumped 7 percent after a bullish note from analysts at Wunderlich Securities.
Aflac (AFL) fell more than 4 percent on Wednesday after the company reported fourth-quarter sales that missed analysts' expectations.
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