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US close: Stocks mostly lower as FOMC minutes remain in focus

(Sharecast News) - Wall Street stocks closed mostly lower on Thursday following the release of minutes from last month's FOMC meeting. At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.03% at 37,440.34, while the S&P 500 lost 0.34% to 4,688.68 and the Nasdaq Composite saw out the session 0.56% weaker at 14,510.30.

The Dow closed 10.15 points higher on Thursday, doing little to reclaim yesterday's heavy losses that came amid ongoing speculation regarding central bankers' potential moves around monetary policy.

Yesterday's minutes from the latest Federal Open Markets Committee pointed to greater hawkishness than implied by the market reaction to its December meeting, indicating that policymakers had viewed the policy rate as likely to be "at or near its peak" for this tightening cycle.

However, they also noted that the path ahead will depend on "how the economy evolves" and reaffirmed that it "would be appropriate" for policy to remain at "a restrictive stance for some time" until inflation was clearly moving down "sustainably".

On the macro front for Thursday, private sector employment in the US rose more than expected in December, according to ADP. Employment increased by 164,000 from November, versus expectations for a 115,000 jump. November's gain was revised down to 101,000 from 103,000.

On another note, Americans lined up for unemployment benefits at a decelerated clip in the week ended 30 December, according to the Labor Department, hitting the lowest claim count since October. Jobless claims in the US fell by 18,000 to 202,000 in the final week of the year, firmly below market expectations for a reading of 216,000. The previous week's level was revised up by 2,000 to 220,000.

Elsewhere, S&P Global's services PMI was revised slightly higher to 51.4 in December, up from a preliminary reading of 51.3, continuing to point to the strongest growth in the services sector in five months. New orders rose at the sharpest rate since June, with firms increasing hiring activity as a result.

In the corporate space, Walgreens Boots Alliance almost cut its dividend in half on Thursday despite reporting a significantly improved loss per share of $0.08 and a 10% sales jump, while Apple traded lower after analysts at Piper Sandler downgraded the tech behemoth just days after Barclays did the same as a result of overstretched valuations and uncertainty regarding future interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve and fears that investors may have grown overly optimistic.

Reporting by Iain Gilbert at Sharecast.com

Dow Jones - Risers

Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK) $117.01 1.95% Amgen Inc. (AMGN) $303.17 0.82% Travelers Company Inc. (TRV) $192.54 0.65% Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) $286.10 0.63% Visa Inc. (V) $259.61 0.63% Unitedhealth Group Inc. (UNH) $545.42 0.63% Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) $148.65 0.55% Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) $39.37 0.54% International Business Machines Corporation (CDI) (IBM) $160.86 0.47% American Express Co. (AXP) $187.14 0.44%

Dow Jones - Fallers

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA) $24.26 -5.12% Nike Inc. (NKE) $102.30 -1.67% Apple Inc. (AAPL) $181.91 -1.27% Walt Disney Co. (DIS) $90.56 -1.19% Chevron Corp. (CVX) $150.66 -1.10% Walmart Inc. (WMT) $157.76 -0.97% McDonald's Corp. (MCD) $291.74 -0.90% Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) $50.08 -0.85% Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) $54.19 -0.81% Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) $367.94 -0.72%

S&P 500 - Risers

TripAdvisor Inc. (TRIP) $21.14 3.58% Carnival Corp. (CCL) $16.79 3.06% Dollar General Corp (DG) $134.76 2.65% Revvity, Inc. (RVTY) $107.72 2.57% DENTSPLY Sirona Inc. (XRAY) $35.72 2.57% Allstate Corp (The) (ALL) $148.50 2.41% United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL) $40.47 2.38% Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR) $0.57 2.33% Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) $27.93 2.27% Align Technology Inc. (ALGN) $261.36 2.01%

S&P 500 - Fallers

Apache Corp. (APA) $34.05 -7.35% Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA) $24.26 -5.12% Helmerich & Payne Inc. (HP) $35.22 -3.43% TE Connectivity Ltd (TEL) $132.46 -3.41% VF Corp. (VFC) $16.94 -3.26% Eog Resources Inc. (EOG) $121.02 -3.17% Albemarle Corp. (ALB) $135.93 -3.03% Marathon Oil Corp. (MRO) $24.18 -3.01% Under Armour, Inc. (UA) $7.57 -2.95% Under Armour Inc. Class A (UAA) $7.94 -2.93%

Nasdaq 100 - Risers

Trip.com Group Limited (TCOM) $38.45 5.72% DENTSPLY Sirona Inc. (XRAY) $35.72 2.57% Align Technology Inc. (ALGN) $261.36 2.01% Incyte Corp. (INCY) $66.60 1.66% Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX) $416.15 1.32% Mercadolibre Inc. (MELI) $1,519.38 1.29% Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) $84.48 1.20% Vodafone Group Plc ADS (VOD) $8.96 1.13% Biomarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (BMRN) $97.73 1.09% American Airlines Group (AAL) $13.09 1.08%

Nasdaq 100 - Fallers

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA) $24.26 -5.12% Charter Communications Inc. (CHTR) $375.75 -2.82% Amazon.Com Inc. (AMZN) $144.57 -2.63% eBay Inc. (EBAY) $42.53 -2.34% Skyworks Solutions Inc. (SWKS) $103.22 -1.89% Alphabet Inc. Class A (GOOGL) $136.39 -1.82% Alphabet Inc. Class C (GOOG) $138.04 -1.65% Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) $42.63 -1.57% J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (JBHT) $189.00 -1.54% Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) $186.07 -1.53%

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Important information: This information is not a personal recommendation for any particular investment. If you are unsure about the suitability of an investment you should speak to one of Fidelity’s advisers or an authorised financial adviser of your choice. When you are thinking about investing in shares, it’s generally a good idea to consider holding them alongside other investments in a diversified portfolio of assets. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.

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