Stocks finished mixed on Wednesday, paring earlier gains. Investor attention pivoted to the Fed policy decision, as well as corporate and economic updates. Geopolitical news also garnered attention, with President Trump officially signing the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA) into law. The Dow added 11 points, while the S&P 500 dipped 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.1%.
As expected, the Federal Reserve left its benchmark interest rate unchanged, citing strength in the labor market and solid economic growth. Fed Chair Jerome Powell noted that the committee is “carefully monitoring” the potential economic impact of the Chinese coronavirus. Treasuries rallied, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note down six basis points to 1.59%.
Seven of 11 S&P 500 sectors closed in negative territory, with Industrials outperforming. Boeing rose 1.7% as the financial damage caused by the beleaguered 737-MAX jet was better than feared. General Electric jumped 10.3% after besting Wall Street earnings expectations. In other earnings, Apple climbed 2.1% to new all-time highs on record revenue. Semiconductor stocks lagged, with Advanced Micro Devices losing 6% on weak guidance. Elsewhere, McDonald’s gained 1.9% after its profit tally surprised to the upside, while AT&T dipped 4% following a revenue miss.
On the data front, pending home sales fell 4.9% in December, the biggest drop since May 2010 amid record-low inventory. Separately, the advance goods trade deficit widened more than anticipated in December. In commodities, WTI crude dipped 0.3% to $53.33/barrel after a government report showed the largest buildup in U.S. crude stockpiles since November.