Stocks are turning in a lackluster performance in morning trading on Wednesday, with the Dow bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line after ending the previous session at a new record closing high.
The Dow is currently posting a modest gain, up 23.68 points or 0.1 percent at 36,823.33. The S&P 500 is also little changed on the day, down 5.63 points or 0.1 percent at 4,787.91.
Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq is extending the sharp pullback seen on Tuesday, falling 91.32 points or 0.6 percent at 15,531.40.
The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders seem reluctant to make significant moves ahead of this afternoon’s release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting.
After the December meeting, the Fed announced its widely expected decision to accelerate the pace of reductions to its asset purchases program.
The Fed minutes may shed additional light on the outlook for monetary policy, with the central bank’s latest projections forecasting as many three interest rate hikes in 2022.
Concerns about higher interest rates continue to weigh on tech stocks, which pulled back sharply in the previous session.
Meanwhile, traders have largely shrugged off a report from payroll processor ADP showing much stronger than expected private sector job growth in the month of December.
ADP said private sector employment spiked by 807,000 jobs in December after jumping by a revised 505,000 jobs in November.
Economists had expected private sector employment to increase by 400,000 jobs compared to the addition of 534,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
“December’s job market strengthened as the fallout from the Delta variant faded and Omicron’s impact had yet to be seen,” said ADP chief economist Nela Richardson.
On Friday, the Labor Department is scheduled to release its more closely watched monthly employment report, which includes both public and private sector jobs.
Economists currently expect employment to jump by 400,000 jobs in December after rising by 210,000 jobs in November. The unemployment rate is expected to edge down to 4.1 percent from 4.2 percent.
Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, contributing to the lackluster performance by the broader markets.
Steel stocks have shown a substantial move to the upside, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index surging up by 3.1 percent to its best intraday level in well over three months.
A continued increase by the price of crude oil is also contributing to considerable strength among energy stocks. Crude for February delivery is currently jumping $1.21 to $78.20 a barrel.
On the other hand, software stocks are extending a recent downward trend, dragging the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index down by 1.8 percent.
Commercial real estate stocks have also come under pressure over the course of the morning, as reflected by the 1.7 percent drop by the Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Wednesday, although Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index bucked the downtrend and inched up by 1 percent. China’s Shanghai Composite Index slumped by 1 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index tumbled by 1.6 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets have moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has edged up by 0.2 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index are both up by 0.7 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries are regaining ground after moving sharply lower over the two previous sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 1.2 basis points at 1.656 percent.
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