Most U.S. Stocks Fall Amid Fed Rate Decision, Apple Rally

  • Feds leaves interest rates unchanged, says risks diminish
  • Apple rallies on sales data, Coca-Cola slumps on miss

Most U.S. stocks fell, with earnings and the price of crude largely setting the tone for individual shares as investors assessed the Federal Reserve’s latest policy decision for the timing of interest-rate increases.

The S&P 500 Index fell 0.1 percent to 2,166.58 at 4 p.m. in New York. The gauge is 0.4 percent below an all-time high reached on Friday after rallying 8.3 percent in the past month. Energy shares tumbled 1 percent as crude sank 2 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished little changed, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index rose 0.7 percent.

Job gains were “strong” in June and indicators “point to some increase in labor utilization in recent months,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement Wednesday after a two-day meeting in Washington. The Fed held rates steady and continued to emphasize a gradual pace of increases.

“Not much has changed, though there’s some option for them to raise rates in September,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company, which manages $89 billion in assets. “That’s why the market’s not reacting much. We all have to get used to the fact that every one of these meetings is going to be something different.”

Fed fund futures show even odds the Fed will raise rates at its December meeting, up from 48 percent before the statement.

The main U.S. equity gauge has surged in the past month with global equities on speculation the Fed won’t rush to add stimulus even as the economy shows signs of picking up steam. After recovering its losses following the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union, the S&P 500 went on to post seven records in 10 days. 

Optimism that corporate earnings would help support gains has boosted the gauge by 19 percent from a February low. Analysts have tempered their estimates for second-quarter profit declines to 4.5 percent and are forecasting a rebound starting in the current period. The S&P 500 is now up 6.1 percent for the year, one of the biggest winners among developed-market benchmarks.

Before the Fed’s statement, traders priced in little chance of a rate increase today. Uneven data and the possible fall out from Brexit have held down expectations for higher borrowing costs this year. December is the first month for which traders projected an at least even chance of a rate increase.

Apple jumped 6.6 percent, the most since April 2014, after posting a smaller-than-expected revenue decline as its cheaper iPhone model gained more traction. Boeing Co. rose 0.8 percent after reporting a narrower loss than analysts projected. Twitter sank 14.5 percent, the most in three months, after its third-quarter sales fell well short of predictions. Coca-Cola dropped 3.3 percent, the most since April, after sales trailed estimates.

More than 50 companies in the S&P 500 release results on Wednesday. Four of the index’s 10 main industries moved higher, with technology gaining 0.8 percent. Consumer-staples producers fell 1.4 percent as Coca-Cola tumbled.

Also moving on corporate earnings, Garmin Ltd. climbed 11.6 percent, closing near its highest price in over a year. The company beat analyst estimates while raising it’s year-end forecast. McDonald’s Corp. fell 1.8 percent, its worst two-day drop since August, after a disappointing earnings report on Tuesday.

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