Stocks trend higher after housing, GDP data
Oil slips after a surprise rise in crude inventories. Second-quarter growth is revised up, but the pace remains slow. Pending home sales climb. The Fed's Beige Book is also on tap. WellPoint rises after its CEO resigns.
Stocks turned slightly higher after U.S. economic growth was revised higher and pending home sales rebounded in July. Oil prices slipped after a surprise increase in crude inventories. Mostly, investors await the Federal Reserve's Beige Book ahead of Friday's speech by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) was up 17 points 13,120. The S&P 500 ($INX) was up 2 points at 1,412. The Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) was up 3 points at 3,080.
On Tuesday, stocks once again lacked direction, trading in a narrow range at low volumes -- low even for this usually quiet summer period. Positive housing data and a disappointing consumer confidence index didn't move the needle much.
With Bernanke speaking at the end of the week at a Fed symposium at Jackson Hole, Wyo., investors mostly looked for signals regarding a potential third round of quantitative easing. While several policymakers favor a large-scale asset-purchasing program, others do not, pointing to more favorable U.S. economic data of late.
US economic data
The U.S. economy grew 1.7% in the second quarter, according to a revised Commerce Department estimate Wednesday. That was faster than the previous GDP growth estimate of 1.5%, showing the economy fared slightly better than originally thought, mostly the result of higher consumer spending and fewer imports than initially reported.
However, the faster pace of economic growth still isn't enough to hold the level of unemployment steady. The pace is still too slow to rule out the need for further easing.
Pending home sales climbed 2.4% in July, exceeding economists' projections. The National Association of Realtors said Wednesday that its index rose to 101.7, the highest since April 2010. The gauge reflects contracts but not closings. On Tuesday, the S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 cities showed a rise in June from a year earlier, the first gain since September 2010
The Fed's Beige Book is scheduled for release at 2 p.m.
Europe awaits ECB action
European stocks traded lower Wednesday. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Tuesday said he will not attend the Fed meeting. His cancellation increased hopes that the ECB will announce at its meeting next week a bond-buying measure aimed at lowering the borrowing costs facing several European nations.
Germany's Bundesbank opposes the plan. But in an opinion piece published Wednesday in German weekly Die Zeit and aimed at calming German angst about the bank's policy course, Draghi said the ECB must employ "exceptional measures" at times to fulfill its mandate of delivering stable prices, Reuters reported.
Asian stocks ended mostly lower.
oil futures slipped Wednesday as Isaac made landfall, missing oil platforms. Also weighing on crude was the American Petroleum Institute's weekly inventory report, which showed rising crude stockpiles. Another report released at 10:30 a.m. showed a surprise increase in inventories, further pushing oil prices down.
Stocks to watch
WellPoint (WLP) shares traded higher after the health insurer announced the resignation of CEO Angela Braly. John Cannon will serve as the interim president and CEO while the company looks for a permanent replacement.
Joy Global (JOY) reported at 12% increase in fiscal-third-quarter earnings as the mining equipment maker's revenue and margins improved, but bookings continued to decline. The company lowered its full-year earnings estimate and warned that it expects fiscal 2013 revenue to be flat or down slightly if current market conditions continue.
Eli Lilly (LLY) said it will stop developing an experimental schizophrenia drug after a recent analysis showed a late-stage trial on the drug was likely to fail.
General Motors (GM) plans to invest $1 billion over the next five years to expand car and component production in Russia.
DR: "psyhed-out: Who makes minimum wage? Maybe a family of four should wait (personal responsibility) before starting that family of four if they are only making minimum wage... A lower minimum wage increases employment because it gives more people a chance to gain employment and start honing their skills as workers. If they apply themselves, there is no reason they cannot climb the ranks like everybody else."
And that is the reason the more responsible ones are not having children. The high school to college age group have the highest unemployment rate. They can't get a job, let alone one that pays well enough to responsibly raise a family. So are we saying that only the rich and well connected should be allowed to have children? And you honestly expect people who are not successful in getting a middle class job to not have children?
Meanwhile, the wealthy and the largest corporations are doing phenomenally well and now billionaires and their congressional friends want to balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor."
- Bernie Sanders
Thanks LOM. I do appreciate that. We are on lockdown this week for sure. It's not the RNC delegates that are the problem. It's all of the wacko protesters that are all over causing all kinds of havoc.
You guys must be so proud!
Divane R...Somedays you seem to spew forth with possible history lessons ??
Maybe you should really do a little "more" research on Bill Clinton and maybe even George Bush senior's "Policies" towards Osama bin Laden and his terrorist cells or followers....?
Hardly Lil' Shrub's policies, which would have trouble "finding his way out of a paper bag".....
Irregardless....Obama and his Administration...GOT, bin LADEN...What part of that "Factual History"
don't you really understand...?
Heck, they already have the tea party Congress on their payroll.
Asking all Americans to get of their azz at some point within the voting cycle to register themselves so that we can better keep those not eligible to vote from voting, and you have an issue with this?
Next you are going to tell me it's the Republican's fault those citizens of NoLa didn't know to leave below sea level areas when a Hurricane was coming....... OH WAIT!!!
" Collective Bargaining in years since has played a major role in America's Economic Miracle. Unions represent some of the freest institutions in this land. There are few finer examples of participatory democracy to be found anywhere. Too often discussion about the labor movement concentrates on disputes, corruption and strikes. But while these things are headlines, there are thousand of good agreements reached and put into practice each year without a hitch."
Ronald Reagan ( 1981 )
Today Republicans praise Scott Walker for stripping away collective bargaining rights of state workers, something Reagan praised as being essential to freedom and true Democracy, something that separated us from the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union. Now the Republicans are bringing the Evil Empire here, if you don't believe me then "show me your papers".
That's LIBERAL wing of the Rep. party silencing the right.
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