Stocks slip as Fed leaves rates as is, Biden preps Congress address

Alphabet, Boeing, Microsoft earnings in focus

U.S. equity markets slumped Wednesday as traders sifted through earnings reports and took in the Federal Reserve’s decision to leave rates near zero ahead of President Biden’s speech this evening. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 34021.45 +433.79 +1.29%
SP500 S&P 500 4112.5 +49.46 +1.22%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 13124.988183 +93.31 +0.72%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 163 points, or 0.48%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite slid 0.08% and 0.28%, respectively. 

The Federal Reserve held its benchmark interest rate near zero while noting the increase in inflation will be "transitory." 

The Fed’s decision to keep policy on hold came hours ahead of Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress, where he is expected to lay out his plans to raise the top corporate tax rate and capital gains tax on wealthy Americans in order to pay for his plans to spend trillions of dollars on infrastructure and families.

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Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BA THE BOEING CO. 222.47 +1.84 +0.83%

In stocks, Dow Component Boeing Co. paused deliveries of its 737 Max aircraft after electrical problems caused the company to re-ground some planes. The company on Wednesday morning reported its net loss narrowed in the three months through March as deliveries of the 737 jet resumed following its return to service. The quarterly loss was the sixth straight for Boeing. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MSFT MICROSOFT CORP. 243.03 +4.03 +1.69%
GOOGL ALPHABET, INC. 2,229.04 +28.79 +1.31%

Fellow Dow member Microsoft Corp. beat on both the top and bottom lines as sales at its Azure cloud-computing unit grew 50% year over year. Google shares also hitting a record after sales hit over $55 billion, an increase of 34%.

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Rounding out the Dow, Visa Inc. topped Wall Street estimates as an online shopping boom helped offset weak travel demand. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
V VISA, INC. 223.66 +3.35 +1.52%

Elsewhere in earnings, Alphabet Inc. booked its second straight record quarterly profit, but warned search traffic and ad sales could slow as users return to their pre-pandemic lifestyles. The company said it will buy back $50 billion worth of shares. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SBUX STARBUCKS CORP. 110.49 +0.70 +0.64%

Starbucks Corp. beat on earnings and missed on revenue as international markets were slow to recover from the pandemic. The coffee giant raised its 2021 outlook for earnings and revenue. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AAPL APPLE, INC. 124.97 +2.20 +1.79%
F FORD MOTOR CO. 11.54 +0.22 +1.94%

Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Ford Motor Co. are among the companies scheduled to report after Wednesday’s closing bell. 

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil climbed 92 cents to $63.86 per barrel and gold fell $4.80 to $1,773.20 an ounce.  

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Overseas markets rallied across the board.

France’s CAC 40 paced the advance in Europe, trading up 0.53%, while Britain’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX 30 were higher by 0.27% and 0.28%, respectively. 

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.45%, China’s Shanghai Composite index rose 0.42% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 ticked up 0.21%.