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Stock market today: Wall Street subdued as it inches toward bull market

Jul 19, 2023

Markets were slow to gain traction again on Wednesday with scant market-moving news scheduled until next week's inflation reports.

Futures for the S&P 500 were up just 0.1%, while futures for the Dow Jones Industrials were essentially flat.

Next week, the U.S. government will publish its latest monthly updates on inflation and the Federal Reserve will meet on interest-rate policy. The bet on Wall Street is that the Fed may hold off on hiking rates, which would be the first time that's happened in more than a year, but could resume raising rates in July.

Investors are watching to see which will happen first: a recession or inflation falling enough to get the Fed to start cutting interest rates, which have climbed so high they’ve hurt various parts of the economy.

Even though the S&P 500 is nearing a bull market, almost as many stocks within it are down this year as up as worries remain about falling corporate profits, still-high inflation and much higher interest rates than a year ago.

Before markets opened Wednesday, Coinbase clawed back some of its losses from a day earlier when the Securities and Exchange Commission charged it with operating its trading platform as an unregistered national securities exchange, broker and clearing agency.

Shares gained 3% early Wednesday after losing about 12% a day earlier.

In China, trade data pointed to a further slowing of its recovery from the disruptions of the pandemic.

China reported its exports fell 7.5% from a year earlier in May and imports were down 4.5%, adding to signs of a slowing of its economic recovery following the lifting in December of anti-virus controls that disrupted travel and commerce.

The decline in exports was the first year-on-year drop in in three months, with export volumes falling below their levels at the start of the year. "And with the worst yet to come for many developed economies, we think exports will decline further before bottoming out later this year," Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

The Shanghai Composite index gained 0.1% to 3,197.76, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.8% to 19,252.00.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index lost 1.8%, the sharpest decline in 12 weeks, to 31,913.74. Analysts said investors were selling to lock in recent gains since prices have risen to their highest level since the early 1990s.

In Seoul, the Kospi was nearly unchanged at 2,615.60, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.2% lower to 7,118.00. Shares rose 1% in Taiwan and fell 0.3% in Bangkok.

In Europe at midday, Germany's DAX, the CAC 40 in Paris and London's FTSE 100 were all up about 0.1%.

In other trading Wednesday, benchmark U.S. crude oil recovered from earlier losses, gaining 71 cents to $72.45 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On Tuesday, it lost 41 cents to $71.74 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, added 68 cents to $76.97 a barrel.

Both were close to $120 a year ago but have fallen amid worries about a faltering global economy's need for fuel.

The U.S. dollar bought 139.52 Japanese yen, down slightly from 139.66 yen. The euro rose to $1.0710 from $1.0695.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 rose 0.2%, ending just 0.2% away from finishing 20% above where it was in mid-October. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up by less than 0.1%, while the Nasdaq composite rose 0.4%, to 13,276.42.


Kurtenbach reported from Bangkok; Ott reported from Silver Spring, Maryland.