U.S. stock prices finished trading little changed, as traders said markets were in a holding pattern ahead of the first big batch of quarterly earnings results set to arrive Friday morning. Many analysts and traders said they are wary of the coming earnings season, as dozens of companies have lowered their profit forecasts for the first quarter. In anticipation, trading activity has slowed in recent weeks as many investors are hesitant to make big bets before they see corporate results. On Wednesday, fewer shares changed hands than on any other day of the year. The S&P 500 edged up less than 0.1%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell less than 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite declined 0.2%. “Markets are in a wait-and-see mode, waiting for the next catalyst,” said U.S. Bank Wealth Management chief equity strategist Terry Sandven. “Global growth remains sluggish but that also means the Fed has shifted to a cautious tone, which provides some comfort for markets.” Earlier in the day, morning declines largely persisted in Asia-Pacific stock markets, with winning streaks snapped in Australia and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, gold futures marked their largest daily drop and lowest settlement month-to-date, with the tumble pushing bullion below a psychologically and technically significant level at $1,300. Gold and silver both declined, “pressured by a rebound in the U.S. dollar index and by chart-based sellers entering the futures markets,” said Jim Wyckoff, senior analyst at Kitco.com. June gold on Comex fell $20.60, or 1.6%, to settle at $1,293.30 an ounce. That was the lowest finish and largest single-session loss for a most-active contract since March 28, according to FactSet data. The selloff marked a sharp reversal in momentum in the metal after it finished at $1,313.90 on Wednesday – the highest finish since March 26 and representing its longest win streak, for sessions in a row, since a five-day rise ended Jan. 31.
Iron Ore: 92.14s + 0.61 (May Contract)
Oil prices declined after U.S. supplies rose and the International Energy Agency noted concerns about global demand in a monthly report. Light, sweet crude for May delivery settled down 1.6% to $63.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, one day after hitting a five-month high. Brent, the global benchmark, declined 1.25% to $70.83 a barrel. In its monthly oil-market report, the IEA said global oil supply dropped significantly in March, driven by production cuts from major oil exporters. The agency kept its oil-demand growth forecast for 2019 and warned that weaker global economic growth would weigh on demand.
The British pound was able to shake off Brexit drama and an early morning selloff to regain its footing in New York trade. After nearly six hours of deliberation, European Union leaders granted the U.K. a second extension to its Brexit deadline to Oct. 31, which includes a clause that would allow Britain to exit from the EU earlier should Prime Minister Theresa May win parliamentary approval for a divorce plan. “The takeaway is that neither side wants a no-deal Brexit. It also appears likely that the endgame is some sort of soft Brexit. Over six months remain for a deal to be struck but never underestimate the capacity of politicians to go to the brink once again. May must now sell this latest compromise to an increasingly skeptical Parliament,” wrote analysts at Brown Brothers Harriman in a note. In afternoon trade the pound was a little lower versus the dollar at $1.3061 compared with $1.3089. The British pound was able to shake off Brexit drama and an early morning selloff to regain its footing in New York trade. After nearly six hours of deliberation, European Union leaders granted the U.K. a second extension to its Brexit deadline to Oct. 31, which includes a clause that would allow Britain to exit from the EU earlier should Prime Minister Theresa May win parliamentary approval for a divorce plan. In afternoon trade the pound was a little lower versus the dollar at $1.3061 compared with $1.3089. Sterling fell to an intraday low below $1.30 but was able to hold support near the 200-day moving average, a closely watched momentum indicator. In the U.S., the greenback is trying to avoid a fourth consecutive losing session. The ICE Dollar Index, a measure of the greenback’s strength versus six of its major trading partners, was trading at 97.192, up 0.2%. The index is down 0.3% this week.
South Korea’s Kospi barely hung on for a tenth straight gain — its longest winning streak in a decade. Singapore’s benchmark was slightly higher as that market sought another eighth high ahead of Friday morning’s central-bank policy statement and first quarter GDP estimate. Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.1%. The Shanghai Composite index closes down 1.6% at 3189.96, while the Shenzhen Composite index was down 2.2% at 1740.37. The Jakarta Composite index was down 1.05% at 6410.17. Hong Kong stocks slid in the morning and didn’t make progressed to reverse the drop this afternoon, leaving it among Asia’s worst performers. The Hang Seng declined 0.9% to 29836.45 while the China Enterprises Index lost 1.2% amid falls of up to 2% on the mainland. Property stocks were weak, with many down at least 2%. Meanwhile, Indian shares were little changed as investors waited for indications about which political party may come to power with the start of phased general elections. The S&P BSE Sensex closed 0.1% higher at 38,607.01.