Investors were able to shrug off Tuesday’s weakness on Wednesday, inspired by solid home sales figures and encouraging minutes from the most recent Federal Open Market Committee meeting. As it turns out, a second rate cut for September wasn’t the foregone conclusion most investors believed it was.
A “recalibration of the stance of policy, or mid-cycle adjustment” was how the Federal Reserve’s chiefs described July’s decision to lower the Fed Funds Rate by a quarter point. Going forward, “policymakers [need] to remain flexible and focused on the implications of incoming data for the outlook.”
In other words, the Fed doesn’t see imminent trouble ahead.
To that end, the recent rate cut may already be having the desired effect. Though they leveled off this week, mortgage applications jumped nearly 22% for the week ending Aug. 9, as mortgage rates fell to multi-decade lows. Even before then, however, low rates caught the attention of would-be home buyers. Sales of existing homes surged to a five-month high pace of 5.42 million in July, according to data from the National Association of Realtors.
Though the immediate response to word that the FOMC wasn’t terribly interested in cutting rates again shaved some of the day’s intra-day gains, investors kept stocks buoyed. The Dow Jones Industrial Average led the way, finishing the day up 0.93%, closely followed by the NASDAQ Composite’s 0.9% advance. The S&P 500 rallied 0.82%.
Top News in the Stock Market Today
Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) may have mainstreamed the idea of electric vehicles. But, it seems rivals are starting to chip away at its market dominance.
That’s the concern from Alliance Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi anyway, who cautioned shareholders after Tuesday’s close that sales of the Model S and Model X have tapered off over the past couple of quarters. Sacconaghi also noted that the average selling price of those vehicles fell on the order of 10% during that time, leading to compressed gross margins, from 27% to 18%.
On a semi-related note, Walmart (NYSE:WMT) filed a lawsuit against Tesla, though not over electric cars. According to reports that surfaced on Wednesday, several Tesla-made solar panels the retailer had installed had caught fire on stores’ and facilities’ rooftops.
The news taints Tesla’s already-struggling solar business.
JPMorgan launched Chase Pay in 2015 when digital wallets were seemingly becoming mainstream. The idea hasn’t been embraced by consumers like it was expected to. Going forward, JPMorgan will focus on partnerships with merchants as a means of bolstering its payments business.
Though it lagged well behind Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and then Walmart on the e-commerce front, Target (NYSE:TGT) may finally be catching up on that front. Last quarter, digital sales for Target were up 34% year-over-year, driving TGT stock nearly 20% higher. The boost from the recently-ramped-up omnichannel effort also led Target to a nice earnings beat.
Cree (NASDAQ:CREE) shares plunged almost 16% on Wednesday, despite the company’s solid second-quarter results.
After Tuesday’s closing bell rang, the computer technology outfit reported earnings of 11 cents per share on revenue of $251 million, topping estimates for a bottom line of 10 cents per share and sales of $248 million. But the company said it’s expecting to report a loss of 5 cents per share for the quarter now underway, on revenue of $240 million. The pros were modeling a top line of $260 million and earnings of 14 cents per share.
Though it was possibly boosted by encouraging real estate news, Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) earned the bulk of the 10% gain it logged today. The pros were expecting sales of $20.9 billion to be turned into a profit of $2.01 per share, while the company did $21 billion worth of sales, and earned $2.15 per share. The bottom line was far better than the year-ago comparable of $1.86 per share.
As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. You can learn more about him at his website jamesbrumley.com, or follow him on Twitter, at @jbrumley.