Dow ends flat, S&P 500 down as Apple dips and traders eye Powell speech

THE S&P 500 ended down on Tuesday with losses in Apple and Amazon ahead of an upcoming speech by US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that could provide hints about magnitude of future interest rate hikes.

Investors also focused on recent protests against COVID-19 curbs in China, including at the world’s biggest iPhone factory. Apple’s stock dropped 2.1%, down for a fourth straight session.

The S&P 500 declined 6.31 points or 0.16% to end the session at 3,957.63 points. The Nasdaq declined 65.72 points or 0.59% to 10,983.78 points while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3.07 points or 0.01% to 33,852.53 points.

Powell is due to speak at a Brookings Institution event on Wednesday about the outlook for the US economy and the labour market. Investors will be looking for clues about when the Fed will slow the pace of its aggressive interest rate hikes.

“No one is willing to buy ahead of tomorrow with Powell speaking. Everyone is nervous about what he is going to say,” said Ron Saba, senior portfolio manager at Horizon Investments in Charlotte.

Shares of Amazon, Nvidia and Tesla each lost more than 1%.

The benchmark S&P 500 index is headed for its second straight month of gains in November amid bets that recent inflation readings showing a slight cooling in prices will lead the Fed to scale back the scale of its interest rate hikes.

Having delivered four straight 75 basis point rate hikes, the Fed is expected to shift down the pace to a 50-bps move in December.

A survey on Tuesday showed U.S. consumer confidence eased further in November amid persistent worries about the rising cost of living.

Mainland China’s recent wave of civil disobedience comes as the number of COVID cases hit record daily highs and large parts of several cities face new lockdowns, further threatening the world’s second largest economy.

The S&P 500 energy sector index rallied 1.3% while gains in oil prices on expectations of a loosening of China’s strict COVID controls were later offset by concerns that OPEC+ would keep its output unchanged at its upcoming meeting.

Despite the S&P 500’s decline, advancing issues outnumbered falling ones by a 1.3-to-one ratio.

The S&P 500 posted three new highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 68 new highs and 183 new lows.

US-listed shares of Chinese companies Alibaba Group Holding Ltd , Pinduoduo Inc and Inc jumped more than 5% after China broadened equity financing channels for property developers.

Shares of Chinese internet firm Bilibili Inc soared 22% after posting upbeat quarterly results.

Volume on US exchanges was relatively light with 9.6 billion shares traded compared with an average of 11.2 billion shares over the previous 20 sessions. – Nov 30, 2022

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