Tech and communications companies gain as stocks wobble on Wall Street

Stocks faded in the last hour of trading and ended mostly lower on Wednesday, a day after the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average set their latest record highs.

Several big technology companies posted solid gains, led by Microsoft, which reported a 24% surge in profits last quarter as its cloud computing business bounded ahead.

The S&P 500 gave up 0.5% after shedding an early gain and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.7%.

The Nasdaq ended little changed. Encouraging earnings helped lift several companies, including McDonald’s.

Markets
Trading was uncertain despite highs in recent days (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.53%. Oil prices fell.

Chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices also reported encouraging earnings, which initially sent its stock price higher. It was down 0.3% in late afternoon trading.

Google’s parent company, Alphabet, rose 5.5%, within striking distance of an all-time high, as a continued rebound in digital ad spending bolstered surprisingly good financial results.

A mix of companies that rely on direct consumer spending also gained ground. Domino’s Pizza rose 3.3%.

Bond yields fell significantly and weighed down banks, which rely on higher yields to charge more lucrative interest on loans. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.53% from 1.61% late Tuesday. JPMorgan Chase fell 1.9%.

US crude oil prices fell 2.4% and pushed energy stocks lower. Exxon Mobil fell 2.8%.

Fashion rental pioneer Rent the Runway was down 9.1% in its stock market debut after an early rally faded. The New York-based company’s offering priced at $21 and was trading at $19 a share.

Investors are busy reviewing the latest round of earnings from a variety of well-known companies. McDonalds rose 3% after reporting solid financial results as an easing of business restrictions helped sales growth. Coca-Cola rose 2.2% as sales grew along with the reopening of many venues and businesses over the summer.

General Motors fell 4.5% after reporting mixed financial results as the broader auto industry continues to face production problems because of a chip shortage. Rival Ford will report its results later on Wednesday.

“After some strong days, markets are taking a breather,” said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco. “They’re certainly digesting earnings.”

The steady flow of corporate report cards will continue on Thursday with industrial bellwether Caterpillar and technology giant Apple. Amazon and Starbucks will also report their results on Thursday.

Outside of earnings, investors are also awaiting the latest update on US economic growth when the Commerce Department releases its report on third-quarter gross domestic product on Thursday.

Rising inflation remains a key concern for investors as they monitor earnings and the impact from supply chain problems and higher prices on businesses and consumers.

Investors are also looking ahead to the Federal Reserve’s meeting next week to see how it moves forward with plans to trim bond purchases and its position on interest rates.

The central bank has maintained that inflation will prove to be “transitory” and tied to the economic recovery, though it has been more persistent than initially anticipated.

“Investors are coming to the realisation that transitory could be significantly longer,” Hooper said.

Markets in Asia closed lower as a Chinese newspaper warned that more real estate developers are likely to default on bonds.

Investors are watching whether one of the biggest developers, Evergrande Group, can avoid a default on 2 trillion yuan (£230 billion) of debt.

European markets mostly fell.