Financial shares lead the market, while energy weighs
U.S. stocks struggled to find direction Wednesday, paring earlier gains after crude-oil prices headed south. All week, trade has been cautious a day before potentially market-moving events that have preoccupied investors' minds.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 7 points, or less than 0.1%, to 21,143, with shares of Nike Inc.(NKE) and American Express Co.(AXP) leading gainers and shares of Caterpillar Inc.(CAT) and General Electric Co.(GE) the big decliners.
The S&P 500 slipped less than 1 point to 2,429. Energy shares (XLE) were sharply lower, falling 1.8% after data from the Energy Information Administration showed crude oil stockpiles unexpectedly rose in the latest week (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/eia-reports-unexpected-weekly-climb-in-us-crude-oil-supplies-2017-06-07), a negative sign for supply at a time when demand remains tepid. Chevron Corp. (CVX) fell 1% while Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) was off 5.4%, and shares of Helmerich & Payne Inc.(HP) dropped 6.6%. Financials and utilities led gainers.
The Nasdaq Composite Index added 3 points to 6,278.
Investors are focused on the so-called "Super Thursday" trio events: testimony on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election from former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, the U.K. general election and a European Central Bank meeting.
Preceding Comey's testimony, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe on Wednesday refused to answer senators (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/coats-mccabe-decline-to-answer-whether-trump-has-intervened-in-fbi-probe-2017-06-07) on whether President Donald Trump had asked them to intervene in a probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
"What we have tomorrow and next week is what is driving everything right now," said Mark Kepner, managing director of sales and trading at Themis Trading. "Combine that with the Fed meeting next week and that's a lot of uncertainty for the market."
But the market is showing resilience, especially with the big drop in oil prices, he said. "The market's been able to hold off on a big selloff in spite of all of that," Kepner said.
Adding to the mix, stocks pulled back from modest gains Wednesday around the same time that S&P Global Ratings downgraded its sovereign rating of Qatar's debt (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/sp-global-downgrades-qatar-sovereign-rating-to-aa-minus-from-aa-2017-06-07) and unsubstantiated reports of another North Korea missile launch, and have recovered somewhat meanwhile.
Major indexes declined for two consecutive sessions amid concerns over these events. However, they remain close to record levels hit last week.
Opinion:The S&P 500's upside breakout is the clear signal we needed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-sp-500s-upside-breakout-is-the-clear-signal-we-needed-2017-06-06)
See:Draghi's ECB may take 'baby steps' toward ending ultraloose monetary policy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/draghis-ecb-may-take-baby-steps-toward-ending-ultraloose-monetary-policy-2017-06-06)
"No one wants to make big moves ahead of these events. And since we don't even have much economic data to trade off of, trading should be pretty quiet. We'll just be floating around," said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management.
The big question regarding Comey is whether the ex-FBI chief will accuse President Trump of abusing his power to derail an FBI investigation and whether there is any indication of potential links between Russia and Trump's election campaign, said FXTM's chief market strategist Hussein Sayed. Any surprises in that testimony (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-to-watch-when-james-comey-testifies-to-the-senate-on-thursday-2017-06-05) to a Senate committee will be reflected in financial markets.
Schutte added that while Thursday's events could lead to elevated volatility in the short-term, they were unlikely to markedly change the tone on Wall Street. "It doesn't appear that a huge amount of new information will come out, so while these factors could move us in the short term, they won't matter over longer-time horizons," he said.
Opinion: This 88-year-old stock market indicator is saying you can relax for now (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/this-88-year-old-stock-market-indicator-is-saying-you-can-relax-for-now-2017-06-06)
Geopolitics and economy: The only top-tier economic update on the calendar for Wednesday is a reading on consumer credit in April, due at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.
One focus is the run-up to the U.K. general election. While voters head to the polls Thursday, the outcome will likely not be known until Friday morning London time.
Opinion polls mostly indicate a victory for Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party, but there are signs it could be a neck-and-neck race with the opposition Labour Party. An unexpected result could trigger volatility across Europe, spilling over to U.S. markets.
Read:5 things to know about the U.K. general election this week (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-things-to-know-about-the-uk-general-election-next-week-2017-06-01)
And check out: Watch for a shake-up among U.K. stocks after Thursday's election (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/watch-for-a-shake-up-among-uk-stocks-after-thursdays-election-2017-06-06)
No change in monetary policy is expected from the ECB meeting, but President Mario Draghi's comments will be scrutinized for signs the central bank is preparing to wind down its ultraloose monetary policy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/draghis-ecb-may-take-baby-steps-toward-ending-ultraloose-monetary-policy-2017-06-06). The euro weakened on a report that the ECB may be ready to cut its inflation forecast through 2019 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/euro-slumps-after-report-ecb-will-cut-inflation-outlook-through-2019-2017-06-07).
Stock movers: Navistar International Corp.'s(NAV) stock fell 1.8% after the truck and diesel engines maker swung to a wider-than-expected fiscal second-quarter loss (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/navistars-stock-tumbles-as-continued-weak-used-truck-market-leads-to-large-loss-2017-06-07).
Jack Daniel's maker Brown-Forman Corp.(BFA) fell 3.2% after it reported earnings and sales that both missed expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/brown-forman-profit-and-sales-fall-below-expectations-2017-06-07).
Pandora Inc.(P) shares dropped 6.1% as investors speculate whether the internet radio company is an acquisition target (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/pandora-shares-on-track-to-close-at-14-month-low-despite-on-going-ma-investment-speculation-2017-06-07).
G-III Apparel Group Inc.(GIII) shares rose 4.6% a day after they rallied (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/g-iii-apparel-shares-jump-10-premarket-after-narrower-than-expected-loss-raised-guidance-2017-06-06)on a narrower-than-expected loss and a raised outlook.
Other markets: European stocks were a mixed bag (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-rise-with-bank-stocks-up-as-santander-scoops-up-popular-2017-06-07), with the FTSE 100 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/ftse-100-turns-higher-as-home-builders-get-a-boost-2017-06-07) slightly weaker, and the German DAX 30 index moving lower. In Asia , Chinese stocks rose 1.2%, bucking a retreat across most other indexes (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/china-stocks-rise-bucking-asian-market-retreats-2017-06-06).
Oil prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-prices-pull-back-ahead-of-us-inventory-data-2017-06-07) turned sharply lower, falling 4.7%, after U.S. supply data from the Energy Information Administration showed a rise of crude-oil inventories by 3.3 million barrels, greater than expected. Gold prices (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-threatens-to-end-3-day-win-streak-as-dollar-strengthens-2017-06-07) were modestly lower, and the dollar was down slightly.
Read: Forex's controversial 'last look' comes under the microscope (https://www.fnlondon.com/articles/fx-body-to-scrutinise-last-look-20170607?mod=linkweek_mw)
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 07, 2017 14:02 ET (18:02 GMT)