Stocks diverge before Fed rate call

·4-min read
Blockbuster earnings failed to help Apple shares

US stock markets were mixed while European markets rose Wednesday as investors cautiously awaited a key Federal Reserve interest rate decision and digested a raft of earnings.

After opening higher, the Dow slid into negative territory, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite continued to rise as tech firms turned in stellar performances.

London shares added 0.3 percent, with travel shares up sharply after England dropped quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers from the EU and US.

Frankfurt also won 0.3 percent and Paris jumped 1.2 percent.

Madrid added 0.4 percent but Santander stock shed more than three percent despite the Spanish lender revealing that it rebounded into bumper quarterly profit.

The Fed's monetary policy meeting ends later Wednesday and will be closely watched for any guidance on its plans in light of the economic recovery, reopening and spread of the Delta coronavirus variant that has sent infections spiking.

"All eyes will be on the US Federal Reserve," said AJ Bell analyst Danni Hewson.

"As always, investors will want to know the central bank's latest view on the outlook for the US economy and whether it is time to tinker with policy support measures.

"The spread of the Delta virus variant in recent weeks and months could give the Fed reason to make no changes to its policy, but any sign of taking a more forward-looking view and wanting to taper bond purchases could cause ripples across global markets."

Oanda analyst Craig Erlam warned the meeting may end up being anticlimatic.

"Given how the data are performing -- talk of peak recovery -- the believed transitory nature of the inflation numbers and the surge in Covid cases as the next wave takes hold, it seems highly likely that the Fed is going to kick the can down the road," he said.

- Apple shares drop -

Better-than-expected earnings from US tech titans Apple, Google-parent Alphabet and Microsoft after the closing bell on Tuesday also proved anticlimatic.

Apple's third-quarter profit rose to $21.7 billion on growth in iPhone sales and its increasingly important digital services.

Revenue surged 36 percent from a year ago to $81.4 billion, the best ever for the tech titan's fiscal third quarter.

But its shares slid 1.0 percent on Wednesday.

"The problem with being the best is you risk becoming a victim of your own success," said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Sophie Lund-Yates.

Still, the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.6 percent in late morning trade, and is only a little more than 100 points shy of the record it set on Monday.

Shares in Alphabet jumped 3.8 percent and Microsoft added 0.3 percent.

Asian markets mostly fell again on Wednesday as fears over China's regulatory crackdown continued to reverberate around trading floors, following losses on Wall Street.

Hong Kong and Shanghai were in focus after suffering a difficult previous three days in the wake of Beijing unveiling a series of measures aimed at curbing a range of industries -- including tech and private tuition -- that have raised fears of further action.

Hong Kong rose more than one percent having oscillated wildly but it made only a small dent in the more than nine percent drop suffered over the previous three days.

- Key figures around 1530 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 percent at 35,020.12 points

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 4,102.14

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,016.63 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 15,570.36 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.2 percent at 6,609.31 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.4 percent at 27,581.66 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.5 percent at 25,473.88 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,361.59 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1806 from $1.1817 at 2100 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.09 pence from 85.41 pence

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3875 from $1.3879

Dollar/yen: UP at 110.09 yen from 109.78 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.2 percent at $74.59 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.4 percent at $71.94 per barrel


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