Stocks slip on crypto’s wild ride and Fed minutes

Bitcoin plunged to as low as $31,663 per coin

U.S. equity markets closed moderately lower Wednesday, paring heavy losses that developed early in the session as technology shares slid along with cryptocurrencies.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 34233.7 -160.05 -0.47%
SP500 S&P 500 4244.33 -10.82 -0.25%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 14088.604127 -85.54 -0.60%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished lower by 163 points, or 0.48%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were down 0.29% and 0.03%, respectively. The tech-heavy Nasdaq lost more than 1.7% in the opening minutes of trading before holding key support and rallying throughout the day. 

The Federal Reserve minutes, from the April meeting, didn't signal any immediate change to policy, however, policymakers hinted a shift could be ahead. 

"A number of participants suggested that if the economy continued to make rapid progress toward the Committee’s goals, it might be appropriate at some point in upcoming meetings to begin discussing a plan for adjusting the pace of asset purchases" according to the statement. 

In stocks, Tesla Inc. and MicroStrategy Inc. were in focus as bitcoin tanked by as much as 26%, hitting a session low of $31,663 per coin before paring its losses. Both companies have purchased billions worth of the cryptocurrency. Other cryptos, including ethereum and dogecoin were also trading sharply lower before recovering. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
TSLA TESLA, INC. 605.56 -12.13 -1.96%
MSTR MICROSTRATEGY 614.30 +15.81 +2.64%

Elsewhere, Target Corp. reported quarterly revenue spiked 23% as same-day services like curbside pickup provided a lift. The retailer sees mid-to-high single-digit comparable sales growth in the current quarter and single-digit growth in the final two quarters of the year. This follows Walmart's strong results reported on Tuesday.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
TGT TARGET CORP. 231.03 -2.14 -0.92%
WMT WALMART, INC. 139.96 -0.67 -0.48%

Lowe’s Companies Inc. said quarterly same-store sales jumped 26% year over year as Americans continued to make home improvements amid the pandemic. The growth trailed that of rival Home Depot Inc., which on Tuesday reported a 31% increase. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
LOW LOWE'S COS., INC. 186.91 -2.69 -1.42%
HD THE HOME DEPOT, INC. 304.08 -5.06 -1.64%
LUV SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. 56.95 -0.31 -0.54%

Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines Co. reduced its average core cash burn forecast by $1 million per day amid improving leisure travel demand spurred by vaccinations and an easing of travel restrictions. Additionally, the airline boosted its quarterly fuel cost forecast by 5 cents per gallon to between $1.90 and $2. 

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil lost $2.13 to $63.36 per barrel and gold added $13.50 to $1,881.30 per ounce.

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Overseas markets were broadly lower. 

Britain’s FTSE 100 declined 1.19% after U.K. inflation more than doubled in April. Elsewhere in the region, France’s CAC 40 slipped 1.43% and Germany’s DAX 30 fell 1.77%. 

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 1.28% and China’s Shanghai Composite dropped 0.51%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was closed for holiday.