U.S. stocks finished barely lower and mixed Wednesday as banks gave up some of the huge gains they’ve made since the presidential election last week, but technology and consumer stocks climbed. The dollar continued to appreciate against other currencies and reached its highest mark in 13 years.
ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 54.9 points, about 0.3 percent, at 18,868.1. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 3.5 points, about 0.2 percent, to nearly 2,177. The Nasdaq composite rose nearly 19 points, about 0.4 percent, to 5,294.6. The Dow rose for seven days in a row through Tuesday and is up 5.8 percent over that time. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq have also made large gains.
OIL PRICES: As markets closed, benchmark U.S. crude fell 54 cents to $45.85 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London on the Intercontinental Exchange Europe, Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 55 cents to $46.40 a barrel. Energy companies fell. They had rallied on Tuesday along with the price of crude oil.
BOND PRICES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.21 percent from 2.22 percent. Bond yields, which are used to set interest rates on many kinds of loans including mortgages, have risen to their highest levels since the beginning of the year as investors expect inflation to rise. Bond investors hate inflation because it erodes the value of the fixed interest payments that bonds pay.
BANKS BIGGEST LOSERS: Banks took the biggest losses as a seven-day rally in that sector petered out. Industrial companies, also big gainers since the election, traded lower as well. The price of oil gave back some of its enormous gain from the day before. Rising stocks outnumbered decliners.
STRONG DOLLAR HURTS EXPORTS: The ICE U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the dollar against six other currencies, rose to its highest level since April of 2003. The dollar is rising in part because investors think the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at a faster pace in response to inflation stemming from the increased spending that President-elect Donald Trump has proposed.
A stronger dollar hurts U.S. companies that do a lot of business overseas because it makes their products more expensive, and it affects their earnings when they are translated from other currencies back into U.S. dollars. However it makes imported goods cheaper for consumers in the U.S.
The dollar slipped 109.15 Japanese yen from 109.32 yen late Tuesday. The euro slid to $1.0681 from $1.0718.