U.S. stocks wavered on Wednesday, largely erasing a retreat from records, as investors mulled the slowdown in Europe’s economy and earnings from Macy’s and other retailers.
“A time out is probably well needed, a straight line up is not the healthiest thing,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group.
Utilities were hardest hit among the S&P 500’s 10 major sectors after the United States and China reached an accord on carbon reductions to curb climate change, with Public Service Enterprise Group and Exelon among the top decliners. Macy’s gained after the department-store chain posted third-quarter earnings that beat estimates, while its revenue missed. The company also cut is full-year guidance.
Wednesday data had wholesale inventories rising 0.3 percent in September, versus expectations for a 0.2 percent gain.
Benchmark indexes moderated losses to turn little changed, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average initially shedding 78 points, and ending nearly flat, with JPMorgan Chase and Exxon Mobil leading blue-chip losses and Nike and Visa fronting gains.
The S&P 500 shed nearly 0.1 percent, with utilities and energy leading sector losses and telecommunications and consumer discretionary the best performing of its 10 major sectors.
The Nasdaq added 0.3 percent.
Advancers were a step ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where 434 million shares traded as of 3:15 p.m. Eastern. Composite volume surpassed 2.4 billion.
U.S. stocks started the session in the red, echoing action in Europe, where shares closed sharply lower.
“We’re probably playing off Europe; the European economic weakness is a focus, and we’re seeing weakness in the European banks and stock markets,” said Boockvar.
The dollar turned up against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note used to figure mortgage rates and other consumer loans held steady at 2.3643 percent.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi “is helping the dollar and dollar-denominated securities by pledging to keep pushing their rates down to a level that stimulates the economies of the euro zone. This should also help feed interest into the Treasury auctions as the yield ‘separation’ between U.S. debt and euro-zone debt can’t be ignored by global investors,” Kevin Giddis, head of fixed income capital markets at Raymond James, wrote in an emailed note.