Stocks finished lower Wednesday. The Dow slipped 3 points to 26,449, while the S&P 500 lost 6 points to 2,900. The Nasdaq Composite was down 4 points to 7,996.
The major averages declined as weakness in the Health Care sector outweighed positive data from the world’s second largest economy. Overnight, China’s first-quarter annualized GDP figure came in at 6.4%, topping expectations. On the domestic data front, the U.S. trade deficit fell in February to its lowest in eight months, primarily due to reduced Chinese imports. Separately, mortgage applications dipped 3.5% in the most recent week. In central bank news, the Fed’s release of its Beige Book showed economic activity growing at a slight-to-modest pace.
Health Care shares extended losses, sliding 2.9% amid worries surrounding increased industry regulations. Meanwhile, the Tech sector outperformed on strength in chipmakers. Qualcomm extended gains, jumping 12.3% to $79.08 following news the company settled its royalty dispute with Apple. In earnings, Netflix slid 1.3% to $354.74 as concerns about increasing competition from Disney overshadowed an earnings and revenue beat. PepsiCo climbed 3.8% to $127.01 after delivering its best organic sales growth in three years, while Morgan Stanley advanced 2.6% to $48.26 after posting a profit tally that topped analyst estimates.
Breadth was negative on issues by 3:2 on the NYSE and 2:1 on the Nasdaq. Composite NYSE volume was more than 3.5 billion shares.
Treasuries were essentially unchanged, with the yield on the 10-year note steady at 2.59%. In commodities, WTI crude slipped 0.5% to $63.76/barrel. COMEX gold lost less than 0.1% to $1,272.20/ounce.