U.S. equities finished mixed Wednesday, as investors digested corporate earnings releases and developments on the trade front. Optimism faded around “phase one” of a U.S.-China trade deal after reports indicated the agreement is not likely to be signed until December as the two sides finalize terms and meeting location. The Dow ticked down less than a point, while the S&P 500 gained less than 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.3%.
Seven of 11 S&P 500 sectors ended the day in positive territory. The Health Care and Consumer Staples sectors paced gains, while Energy shares declined more than 2.0% in sympathy with a retreat in oil prices. In earnings, CVS Health added 5.2% following its top and bottom line beat that was fueled by solid results in its pharmacy benefit management division. Humana gained 3.6% after the insurer’s profit and revenue figures topped analyst estimates. Coty rose 13.3% after the cosmetics maker bested analyst profit projections. In M&A news, HP Inc. jumped nearly 6.0% on news the personal computer maker may be acquired by Xerox.
In commodities, WTI crude declined 1.2% to $56.55/barrel after gaining in the prior three trading sessions after data showed a build in U.S. inventories. COMEX gold advanced 0.6% to $1,492.00/ounce.
On the data front, MBA mortgage applications slipped 0.1% last week, after increasing 0.6% in the prior period. A separate update showed productivity in the U.S. unexpectedly fell in the third quarter, marking the first decline in four years. Treasuries strengthened, with the yield on the 10-year falling three basis points to 1.82%.