Midday Report: US Stocks Trim Declines After Powell Signals Fed Staying on Ultra Lose Monetary Policy Course; Yields Slip

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 12:33 PM | MT Newswires

US stocks pared losses Tuesday but technology remained among the worst performers after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress that the economy was a "long way from our employment and inflation goals."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 129.60 points, or 0.4%, to 31,392.09 points, after retreating to as low as 31,250 earlier in the session. S&P 500 slid by 0.7% to 3,847.00 and Nasdaq dropped by 1.9% to 13,274.55, but both indexes were off their session lows. Consumer discretionary was the steepest decliner while energy led the gainers after midday on Tuesday.

The US 10-year yield fell by 1.9 basis points to just under 1.35%, after earlier trading higher at 1.37%. The West Texas Intermediate futures fell by 0.1% to $61.62, recovering from declines of as much as 0.8%.

The current monetary policy stance remains appropriate and it will be "some time" before any changes are required, Chair Powell was cited as saying in a comment from Pantheon Macroeconomics on Tuesday.

"Inflation is no near-term threat, thanks to the impact of COVID on some sector, but the Chair reminded Senators that even when inflation does rise, the Fed wants to see it above the target for 'some time' before raising rates," Powell was cited as saying in the Pantheon commentary.

In company news, Extra Space Storage (EXR) reported fourth-quarter results that beat expectations and the company set upbeat earnings guidance while raising its quarterly dividend. Shares jumped by 6.2% intraday, the most on S&P 500.

Leidos (LDOS) is acquiring Gibbs & Cox, an engineering and design firm, for $380 million in cash. It also reported fiscal second quarter results that showed revenue lagged the market consensus but earnings were ahead of expectations. Shares were the worst performer on S&P 500, down by 9.5%.

Home Depot (HD) said net earnings in the fourth quarter were affected by expenses from its acquisition of HD Supply in December, which totaled $0.09 a share. Shares fell by 4.6%, the most on the Dow, even as the company reported higher sales and earnings than the market had anticipated.

In the precious metals markets, gold was down 0.02% to $1,807.95 an ounce, with silver down 1.1% to $27.78 an ounce but copper up 1% to $4.19 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund rose 0.2% to $41.38 and the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 1.8% to $10.73. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 2.3% to $33.42 and SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.1% to $169.29. The iShares Silver Trust was down 2% to $25.74.

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