US stocks close mixed as tech slump overshadows Fed’s plans for long-term support

NYSE Powell Traders
  • US stocks closed mixed on Wednesday as sliding tech giants overshadowed the Federal Reserve's pledge to keep monetary support intact for the foreseeable future.
  • Central bank policymakers signaled near-zero interest rates would last through 2023 to buttress the US economic recovery.
  • The tech sector dragged major indexes into intraday losses, with mega-caps including Apple and Facebook leading the slump.
  • Retail sales grew by just 0.6% in August, missing the average economist estimate of 1% and marking a slowdown from July's 1.2% growth.
  • Oil prices increased on reports of US stockpiles falling by 9.5 million barrels last week. West Texas Intermediate crude jumped as much as 5.4%, to $40.33 per barrel.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US equities closed mixed on Wednesday as investors weighed the Federal Reserve's latest policy decision against a tech-sector slump.

Tech names slowed their roll on Wednesday after rebounding in recent sessions. Mega-caps including Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft sank through the afternoon and dragged the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite into intraday losses. The sector has endured intense volatility through September as investors have weighed historically high valuations against the firms' earnings strength through the pandemic.

The Federal Open Market Committee elected to hold rates near zero and maintain asset purchases at least at their current pace after their two-day September meeting. Central bank policymakers also signaled near-zero rates would last through 2023.

In an update to its forward guidance, the Fed said it "expects to maintain an accommodative stance of monetary policy" until maximum employment is achieved and inflation averages 2% over time, according to a Wednesday statement. The stance signals to investors that highly supportive monetary policy will remain in place well into the US economic recovery. 

Here's where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET market close on Wednesday:

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"If there was any doubt about the Fed's intention to allow the economy to run hot, today's FOMC meeting put paid to that," Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, said. "The only question that remains, is how hot is hot?"

Investors also grappled with retail-sales data that was weaker than expected. August sales grew by just 0.6%, missing economists' estimates of 1% and sinking from July's 1.2% growth. The reading marked the fourth straight increase since spending cratered in April but also showed a slowdown as economic stimulus dried up last month.

Energy stocks gained the most through the day, with real estate and industrial stocks also notching healthy gains. Tech stocks fell the most of the S&P 500's 11 sectors along with communication services and consumer cyclical stocks.

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Cloud-data startup Snowflake more than doubled in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The company raised roughly $3.4 billion in its debut, making it the largest-ever software initial public offering and biggest IPO of the year.

Kodak shares surged after an internal investigation found that stock trades by CEO Jim Continenza around the time the Trump administration disclosed a $765 million loan to the firm didn't violate company rules.

The sports-betting platform DraftKings rose after announcing an exclusive deal with the New York Giants to operate online wagers, a sportsbook, and a virtual lounge on game days.

Nikola reversed an intraday tumble and soared after JPMorgan analyst Paul Coster backed the company after a discussion with its management. The stock slipped through recent sessions amid research reports knocking Nikola for misrepresenting its performance and sales. Nikola deemed such reports false, but the statement did little to keep shares from falling earlier in the week.

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"The overall message was reassuring: no loss of momentum with existing partners, prospective customers, suppliers and employees," Coster said in a Wednesday note.

Spot gold climbed as much as 1%, to $1,973.60. The US dollar erased losses and gained slightly, and Treasury yields ticked higher after the Fed's announcement.

Crude-oil futures jumped above $40 per barrel after the American Petroleum Institute reported that US inventories fell by 9.5 million barrels last week, according to Bloomberg. West Texas Intermediate crude gained as much as 5.4%, to $40.33 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international standard, climbed 4.5%, to $42.37 per barrel, at intraday highs.

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