Overnight Markets: US stocks end mixed in wake of Fed statement

US stocks closed little changed on Wednesday after a policy announcement from the Federal Reserve offset an initial boost from better-than-expected results from blue-chip names, including Apple.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 12 points, or 0.04%, to 28,734, the S&P 500 lost three points, or 0.09%, to 3,273 and the Nasdaq Composite added six points, or 0.06%, to 9,275.

Stocks lost ground after the Fed held rates steady as expected while offering no new guidance on its balance sheet. In a new conference, chairman Jerome Powell said “uncertainties about the outlook remain” and noted the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The US central bank held its benchmark interest rate steady in a range between 1.5% and 1.75%.

In economic data, the US trade deficit rose 8.5% in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said.

However, investors were encouraged by a slew of corporate earnings reports led by Dow component Apple Inc. Shares of the iPhone maker surged 2.09% after it reported earnings for the holiday shopping quarter that topped analysts’ expectations.

“Who cares about a potential global pandemic when Apple reports results like that?” wrote Paul Hickey of Bespoke Investment Group in a Wednesday note.

Boeing Co added 1.72% after the planemaker forecast nearly $19 billion in costs related to the grounding of its 737 MAX jets, smaller than what many analysts had expected.

General Electric climbed 10.32% after the industrial conglomerate set a higher cash target for 2020.

Starbucks Corp fell 2.12% after warning of a financial hit as it closed thousands of restaurants and adjusted operating hours in China.

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McDonald’s Corp. on Wednesday reported fourth-quarter earnings and revenue that beat expectations. Shares rose 1.9%.

In Asia, stocks slipped on Thursday in morning session after the US Fed kept interest rates on hold and investors continued to watch for developments on the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.48% in early trade. In Taiwan, where markets returned to trade from the holidays, the Taiex plunged 3.73%.

Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 in Japan slipped 0.86% while the Topix index declined 0.74%. In South Korea, the Kospi was 0.41% lower. Meanwhile, stocks in Australia fell into negative territory as the S&P/ASX 200 saw a fractional decline. Markets in China remain closed on Thursday for a holiday.



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