US stocks were mixed in narrow trading range on Wednesday midday, with the S&P 500 index briefly touching a new high while Treasury yields fell to March levels ahead of the US inflation data later this week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down 0.2% to 34,545.89, paring earlier gains. The S&P 500 nudged up 0.1% to 4,231.74 after surpassing the record level struck last month in the morning. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3% to 13,969.51.
All three indexes have crept higher in recent weeks as Treasury yields retreated gradually after hitting a high of 1.745% in late March amid worries over the impact of rising inflation on the current easy money policy.
On Wednesday, the 10-year bond yield dipped to 1.499%, the lowest level since early March, from 1.543% at close on Tuesday, ahead of Thursday's release of US consumer price data for May. Investors fear that the Federal Reserve could bring forward a tighter policy to contain inflation amid pledges to stay the current course.
"While investors might interpret the reversal of Fed policy as a bad omen, history shows that stock returns remain robust in the months leading up to and following the first-rate hike," Credit Suisse analysts said in a note. "The real damage from higher rates tends to occur later in the cycle when tighter policy flattens/inverts the curve. We are eons away from that happening."
Meanwhile, Merck (MRK) rose about 2.4% after the drug maker secured a $1.2 billion deal to supply the US government with molnupiravir, its antiviral drug candidate for non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients if it receives emergency use approval from the US Food and Drug Administration.
Campbell Soup (CPB) fell over 5% after its Q3 performance trailed market expectations while lowering its earnings guidance for fiscal 2021 on margin pressure.
On the energy front, oil prices retreated following earlier gains, with US West Texas Intermediate down 0.4% to $69.74 per barrel and Brent crude 0.2% lower to $72.10. Natural gas price added 0.2% to $3.13 per 1 million BTU. Oil majors were mixed, with Exxon Mobil (XOM) higher while Chevron (CVX) and ConocoPhillips (COP) lower.
Among the gainers, Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE) rose 20% after it raised almost $200 million from two share sale programs for acquisition of renewable natural gas production projects. Energous (WATT) rose 13.5% after achieving interoperability for radio frequency energy harvesting technology in partnership with Atmosic, enabling wireless charging up to two meters away. SPI Energy (SPI) added 18.7% after its Phoenix Motorcars unit started production of its third generation drivetrain products at its California facility.
On the losing side, Lordstown Motors (RIDE) shed 16.5% after it raised "substantial doubt" over its ability to continue as a going concern on worries over insufficient cash balance to bring its electric vehicles to market. Ondas Holdings (ONDS) fell 13.8% after pricing its 6.4 million shares offering at $7 per share, against its closing price of $8.95 on Tuesday.
In the precious metals markets, gold was fractionally lower to $1,893.80 an ounce, while Silver gained 0.9% to $27.98 an ounce. Copper fell 0.6% to $452.80 per pound.
Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was down 0.7% to $47.56, while the United States Natural Gas Fund was up 0.1% to $11.01. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was up 0.4% to $38.17 while SPDR Gold Shares eased 0.1% to $177.10. The iShares Silver Trust gained 0.9% to $25.83.