2 mins to read

While you were sleeping: UPDATED Stocks ease as Dow 20,000 beckons

The Dow sheds 32 points as milestone remains tantaslingly close.  

Margreet Dietz
Thu, 22 Dec 2016

Wall Street slipped as investors reassessed valuations in a market trading near record highs.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 32.66 points or 0.2% to 19,941.96 and remains tantalisingly close to the 20,000 milestone (Dow20K).

The Nasdaq Composite Index moved 0.2% lower to 5471.43, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index eased 0.25% to 2265.18.

In the Dow, declines in Merck and Pfizer shares, down 1.9% and 1.3% respectively, outweighed gains in Boeing and American Express, both trading 0.6 % higher.

"We've had this huge eight-year bull market and now is an opportunity to think if this move and valuations are justified," North Carolina-based LPL Financial senior market strategist Ryan Detrick told Reuters.

Shares of FedEx fell 2.5% after the company posted quarterly earnings that fell short of expectations.

"FedEx will likely continue to suffer near-term margin pressure due to increased investment in its ground and freight divisions," Cowen & Co analyst Helane Becker wrote in a note to investors, Bloomberg reported.

"Long-term, we continue to believe FedEx's investments will lead to margin growth and increased throughput," Ms Becker says, who reiterated her outperform rating on the stock.

Twitter drops after CTO quits
Shares of Twitter dropped 4.4 % after the company’s chief technology officer, Adam Messinger, said he was leaving the company.

"We're taking steps to streamline and flatten the organisation by elevating our engineering, product and design functions, with each area now reporting directly to [CEO] Jack" Dorsey, Twitter said, according to Bloomberg.

"We believe these updates to our organisational structure will enable increased discipline in our product strategy and faster execution."

Meanwhile, The Coca-Cola Company has agreed to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev's stake in its Coca-Cola Beverages Africa bottling joint venture for $US3.15 billion.

Coca-Cola also agreed to acquire AB InBev's interest in bottling operations in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, El Salvador and Honduras for an undisclosed amount.

The transactions, subject to approvals, are expected to close by the end of 2017.

The latest US housing data were better than expected. A National Association of Realtors report shows existing home sales rose 0.7% to an annual rate of 5.61 million units in November, the highest sales pace since February 2007 and up from a downwardly revised pace of 5.57 million units in October.

"The healthiest job market since the Great Recession and the anticipation of buyers closing on a home before mortgage rates rose from their historically low levels have combined to drive sales higher in recent months," NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun says.

"Furthermore, it's no coincidence that home shoppers in the northeast, where price growth has been tame all year, had the most success last month."

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the session with a 0.2% drop from the previous close. The UK's FTSE 100 Index inched 0.04% lower, while France's CAC 40 Index fell 0.3%. Germany's DAX Index eked out a 0.03% gain.

In Spain, bank stocks dropped after a ruling by the European Court of Justice that officials at Bank of Spain estimate might force them to pay back more than €4 billion to clients. Banco Popular Espanol closed 5.8% lower.



Margreet Dietz
Thu, 22 Dec 2016
© All content copyright NBR. Do not reproduce in any form without permission, even if you have a paid subscription.
While you were sleeping: UPDATED Stocks ease as Dow 20,000 beckons