Australian shares overcame a weak start to the session to outperform most markets in
the region, buoyed largely by yield plays like utilities and property trusts. Up for a
third straight session, the S&P/ASX 200 settled 0.5% higher at 6685.5.
Energy stocks were the biggest drag, dropping 2.2% as a sector, while the healthcare
subindex eased slightly. The utilities and property trusts each added 1.9%, and
industrials were up 1.3%. Woolworths helped lift the consumer stocks, climbing 2.7% on
news it will merge its drinks and bars businesses and seek to spin them off.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a record, its first new high in nine months,
as the index notched its fourth straight session of gains.
The Dow industrials climbed more than 170 points during a shortened trading session
ahead of Thursday’s Independence Day holiday, putting it above its previous October
milestone. The Dow was the last of the three major indexes to notch a record this year,
as trade tensions, concerns of slowing economic growth and problems among individual
companies such as Boeing and 3M weighed on its performance in recent months.
Last weekend’s trade truce spurred the latest leg of the Dow’s recovery after the U.S.
and China reached a pact that eased investors’ fears of an all-out trade war between the
world’s two biggest economies. But the cease-fire only put additional tariffs on hold
indefinitely, leaving investors concerned that lingering frictions could give way to
another flare-up in trade tensions and market volatility.
Eyes are now turned to the Federal Reserve and whether it will cut interest rates this
year-a move that would support further stock gains, analysts said.
On Wednesday, shares of McDonald’s led the Dow industrials higher, followed by Procter
& Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, helping lift the index 179.32 points, or 0.7%, to 26966.
That tops its previous record of 26828.39, set Oct. 3.
The Dow had previously topped that mark in intraday trading last month and again
Monday, but it fell back below the record before markets closed. Altogether, the Dow took
188 trading sessions to reach its latest record, its longest drought since the
290-session stretch from May 2015 through July 2016.
The S&P 500 added 22.81 points, or 0.8%, to 2995.82, notching its eighth milestone of
the year, while the Nasdaq rose 61.14 points, or 0.8%, to 8170.23, its fifth record this
Shares of Symantec led the S&P 500 higher, gaining $3, or 14%, to $25.10, its biggest
gain in nearly 18 years, after reports it had drawn takeover interest from Broadcom ,
which declined $10.44, or 3.5%, to $284.89. Real-estate and consumer-staple stocks,
meanwhile, notched the biggest gains, rising 1.5% and 1.4%, respectively, while shares of
utilities added 0.8%.
Tesla rose $10.35, or 4.6%, to $234.90 after the car maker said Tuesday it had
delivered a record 95,200 vehicles in its latest quarter. Its shares remain down 29% for
Gold futures notched back-to-back session gains, settling at their highest in over six years as expectations grew for loose global monetary policy, boosting the appeal of the yellow metal.
Oil futures ended higher after posting a roughly two-week low a day earlier, as U.S. government data showed domestic crude supplies fell a third straight week, but by a lot less than the market expected.
August West Texas Intermediate crude CLQ19, +2.03% climbed by $1.09, or 1.9%, to settle
at $57.34 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, near the session’s high of
$57.44. Regular trading on the exchange will be shut for the Independence Day holiday on
Meanwhile, international benchmark September Brent BRNU19, +0.20% added $1.42, or 2.3%,
to finish at $63.82 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe. With the U.S. on holiday, oil trading
on the exchange will close early, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, on Thursday.
The U.S. dollar rose modestly in mixed trading as investors look forward to widespread easy-money policies from global central banks. Investors are betting on rate cuts from the Federal Reserve and from the European Central Bank.
The U.S. Dollar Index rose 0.06% to 96.79.
The German 10-year government bond yield slid 2 basis points to negative 0.39%, pushing
deeper into negative territory. Meanwhile, the Italian 10-year government bond yield
plummeted 26 basis points to 1.60%.
European rates fell after the International Monetary Fund’s head Christine Lagarde was
nominated by European leaders to succeed Mario Draghi as the next president of the
European Central Bank. Her lack of a monetary policy background has left some market
participants unsure of her leanings but many investors say she is expected to continue
Draghi’s loose policies.