Fed leaves rates unchanged; stocks fell despite Apple rally

BY MARLEY JAY, (AP) U.S. stocks fell Wednesday afternoon after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged, as predictable. Apple is climbing after it declared a huge stock repurchase and solid results in its most recent quarter and smaller companies are also rallying. Health care firms and household food and beverage companies are falling.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 19.19 points, or 0.72 percent, to 2,635.61 as of 4:03 p.m. Eastern time. It turned slightly higher after the Fed’s decision was declared, but that didn’t last. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 175.20 points, or 0.73 percent, to 23,923.85. The Nasdaq composite decline 29.81 points, or 0.42 percent, to 7,100.90.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks climbed 5.28 points, or 0.34 percent, to 1,555.62 as smaller technology and health care companies and retailers advanced. Most of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange moved higher.

APPLE PAY(S OFF): Apple had a slightly better fiscal second quarter than Wall Street anticipated, and after months of concerns about weak iPhone sales, shareholders were happy with Apple’s forecasts. The tech giant said it will use some of its tax savings to buy back $100 billion of its own stock and to raise its dividend. Apple stock climbed 5 percent to $177.60. That assisted offset small losses for other technology companies counting Microsoft, Intel and Cisco Systems.

FED DECISION: The Fed left its benchmark interest rate unchanged in May and said it anticipates to keep raising interest rates gradually. The central bank said inflation has approached its 2 percent target, but it didn’t suggest it is overly concerned that inflation will strengthen more than that.

The central bank says it anticipates to raise interest rates a total of three times this year. It raised them once in March and shareholders think the next boost will come in June. One of the key debates on Wall Street is whether the Fed will raise rates three times as planned, or if it will raise them four times in response to more signs of inflation and faster economic growth.

Bond prices turned slightly higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.96 percent from 2.97 percent. The dollar also weakened and fell to 109.73 yen from 109.81 yen. The euro fell to $1.1988 from $1.1993.

THE QUOTE: “The Fed clearly is responding to an economy that has improved and inflation that is improving,” said Steve Wood, chief market strategist at Russell Investments. “There are really no surprises or reasons to think the Fed is going to deviate from its stated policy path.”

However, Wood said he is starting to focus on stocks and assets outside the U.S. He said that’s in response to the combination of rising interest rates, the current nine-year-old bull market, and the possibility that company profits will grow at a slower pace next year than they have so far in 2018.

FEELING THIRSTY: Molson Coors Brewing suffered its worst drop in 13 years after it said the U.S. beer industry got off to a slow start in 2018. Molson said cold weather may have prompted consumers to cut back on their drinking. The company’s results fell short of analyst projections and it also said sales to wholesalers declined. Its stock shed 15.72 percent to $60.41. Coca-Cola and Pepsi continued to fall, with Coke down 1.47 percent to $41.97 and Pepsi sliding 2.05 percent to $97.10.

SNAPPED: Snap skidded 21.90 percent to $11.04 after its first-quarter revenue fell far short of estimates. The company said its redesign, which some users have slammed, was one of the reasons for the slip.

COPY THAT: Xerox’s CEO and most of its board will resign as shareholders Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason push the company to stop its sale to longtime partner Fujifilm. The duo called for Jacobson to resign in late January, shortly before Xerox declared a deal that will result in Fujifilm taking majority control of Xerox. Jacobson and five other directors are being replaced. Xerox said the new board will reconsider the deal with Fujifilm and could terminate or restructure Xerox’s relationship with the company.

Xerox shares fell 9.26 percent to $29.30.

EUROPE SLOWDOWN: After posting its highest growth in a decade during 2017, economic growth in the 19-country eurozone slowed a bit in the first quarter, mostly because of temporary factors such as cold weather. Despite the slowdown, growth was higher than the equivalent in the U.S.

The DAX in Germany soared 1.51 percent and the French CAC 40 picked up 0.16 percent. In Britain the FTSE 100 rose 0.30 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude jumped 1 percent to $67.93 a barrel in New York, while Brent crude, the international standard, rose 0.3 percent to $73.36 per barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline lost 0.4 percent to $2.08 a gallon. Heating oil rose 1 percent to $2.12 a gallon. Natural gas fell 1.7 percent to $2.75 per 1,000 cubic feet.

METALS: Gold fell 0.1 percent to $1,305.70 an ounce. Silver jumped 1.5 percent to $16.38 an ounce. Copper added 1 percent to $3.07 a pound.

ASIA: Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.2 percent and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.3 percent. South Korea’s Kospi gave up 0.4 percent.

Source: AP

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