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US open: Stocks trade lower, retail sales in focus

(Sharecast News) - Wall Street stocks were in the red early on Wednesday as market participants continued to mull over the future of monetary policy and digested retail sales data for the all-important holiday season. As of 1530 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.11% at 37,319.19, while the S&P 500 slipped 0.59% to 4,738.04 and the Nasdaq Composite came out the gate 1.10% weaker at 14,780.51

The Dow opened 41.93 points lower on Wednesday, extending losses recorded in the previous session as traders returned from the Martin Luther King Jr Day break.

Wednesday's primary focus was December's retail sales numbers, which revealed US retail sales soared 0.6% month-on-month in December, according to the Census Bureau, beating forecasts of 0.4% for the biggest increase in three months. December's increase was principally driven by sales of autos, which were up 1.2% month-on-month. Excluding autos, retail sales increased 0.4%. For the year as a whole, unadjusted retail sales increased 3.2%

Elsewhere on the macro front, US mortgage applications surged by 10.4% in the week ended 12 January, the biggest increase in twelve months, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, extending the 9.9% jump seen in the previous week. The increase comes as lower mortgage rates continue to make homeownership more of a reality for Americans as a result of expectations that the Federal Reserve will announce its first round of interest rate cuts during the first quarter. Applications to purchase a new home rose by 9%, while applications to refinance a home loan jumped by 11%.

On another note, December's import prices remained unchanged at 139.50 points in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while industrial production increased 1% year-on-year in December, according to the Federal Reserve, the biggest rise since January 2023.

Still on data, the National Association of Housebuilders' housing market index rose to 44 in January, up from 37 in the previous month, extending its rebound from a low touched in November and firmly above market expectations for a reading of 39.

Finally, business inventories fell 0.1% month-on-month in November, according to the Census Bureau, in line with expectations.

Federal Reserve bankers Michael Barr, Michelle Bowman, and John Williams will all deliver speeches throughout the day.

Also drawing an amount of investor attention, the yield on the benchmark ten-year Treasury note crossed the psychologically important 4% mark yet again after Federal Reserve governor Christopher Waller cautioned that easing monetary policy may come at a slower rate than anticipated. The ten-year note was sitting .....

In the corporate space, Charles Schwab posted weaker-than-expected Q4 revenues, leading to a 22% drop in net profits, while US Bancorp posted a decline in fourth-quarter earnings after booking severable sizeable one-off charges.

Reporting by Iain Gilbert at Sharecast

Dow Jones - Risers

Boeing Co. (BA) $204.20 1.84% Unitedhealth Group Inc. (UNH) $526.72 1.46% Travelers Company Inc. (TRV) $199.02 1.18% Visa Inc. (V) $266.00 0.29% Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) $150.16 0.25% American Express Co. (AXP) $181.12 0.08% Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK) $118.58 0.08% Chevron Corp. (CVX) $143.70 0.01% Dowdupont Inc. (DWDP) $0.00 0.00% Coca-Cola Co. (KO) $59.97 -0.03%

Dow Jones - Fallers

Intel Corp. (INTC) $45.91 -2.44% Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) $281.57 -1.97% Walt Disney Co. (DIS) $91.73 -1.42% Nike Inc. (NKE) $100.50 -1.20% Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) $52.48 -1.17% Apple Inc. (AAPL) $181.50 -1.16% Salesforce.Com Inc. (CRM) $266.18 -1.12% Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) $50.04 -1.09% Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) $386.22 -1.04% Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA) $22.69 -0.77%

S&P 500 - Risers

FMC Technologies Inc. (FTI) $19.10 2.41% Humana Inc. (HUM) $448.27 2.16% ConAgra Brands Inc (CAG) $29.15 1.98% Citizens Financial Group, Inc. (CFG) $31.81 1.96% Boeing Co. (BA) $204.20 1.84% Elevance Health Inc. (ELV) $481.90 1.82% CIGNA Corp. (CI) $312.52 1.82% J. M. Smucker Co. (SJM) $130.43 1.77% Assurant Inc. (AIZ) $167.24 1.67% Campbell Soup Co. (CPB) $44.23 1.58%

S&P 500 - Fallers

Charles Schwab Corp. (SCHW) $61.69 -4.07% Dxc Technology Company (DXC) $22.68 -3.84% Estee Lauder Co. Inc. (EL) $125.06 -3.62% Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) $91.25 -3.50% Fortinet Inc. (FTNT) $59.90 -3.39% Microchip Technology Inc. (MCHP) $82.73 -2.85% Align Technology Inc. (ALGN) $259.85 -2.85% Paypal Holdings Inc (PYPL) $56.79 -2.83% Mattel Inc. (MAT) $17.38 -2.82% Sealed Air Corp. (SEE) $35.22 -2.81%

Nasdaq 100 - Risers

Kraft Heinz Co. (KHC) $37.94 0.88% PACCAR Inc. (PCAR) $94.52 0.50% Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (CHKP) $156.85 0.48% Hologic Inc. (HOLX) $73.24 0.48% J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. (JBHT) $191.83 0.47% T-Mobile Us, Inc. (TMUS) $163.82 0.45% Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (REGN) $940.58 0.35% Incyte Corp. (INCY) $61.55 0.34% Mondelez International Inc. (MDLZ) $73.08 0.32% Fiserv Inc. (FI) $137.29 0.21%

Nasdaq 100 - Fallers, Inc. (JD) $22.47 -4.71% Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN) $91.25 -3.50% Tesla Inc (TSLA) $213.28 -3.01% Baidu Inc. (BIDU) $101.49 -2.88% Microchip Technology Inc. (MCHP) $82.73 -2.85% Align Technology Inc. (ALGN) $259.85 -2.85% Paypal Holdings Inc (PYPL) $56.79 -2.83% Illumina Inc. (ILMN) $131.52 -2.68% NetEase Inc. Ads (NTES) $87.24 -2.58% Mercadolibre Inc. (MELI) $1,629.99 -2.55%

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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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