U.S. stocks traded higher Wednesday as traders eyed oil inventories and any signals from the Fed over an anticipated U.S. interest rate hike in mid-December. Official data from the U.S. Commerce Department showed a bigger-than-expected drop in new-home construction last month, though permits for new construction rebounded.
“October’s weakness in starts was confined to the South and West,” Ed Stansfield, chief real estate economist for Capital Economics, said in a note. “In the Northeast and Midwest, starts posted strong, double-digit gains in October.”
New-home construction fell to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.15 million, or 11 percent lower than September, and was 1.8 percent below October of last year. But other data, including a rebounding jobs market and strong consumer confidence, suggest the downturn is a blip and not a trend.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) rose Wednesday by 94.67 points, or 0.54 percent, to 17,584. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) advanced 10.57 points, or 0.52 percent, to 2,061. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) gained 27.34 points, or 0.55 percent, to 5,013.
Nine out of 10 S&P 500 sectors were up, with the declines reflected in telecommunications and utilities. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) led gains among the 30 Dow components after Goldman Sachs released a bullish report on Apple’s services-oriented revenue streams. Home Depot Inc. (NYSE:HD) led declines Wednesday as investors sold stock that hit a 52-week high on strong third-quarter results.
Oil prices were up Wednesday after the U.S. government reported a smaller-than-expected rise in crude inventories.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark for oil prices, gained 1.52 percent to $41.29 per barrel for December delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil prices, advanced 1.97 percent to $44.43 for January delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
Asian stocks fell Wednesday, partly over jitters that more terrorist attacks could erupt in Europe. The Shanghai Composite Index dropped 36.33 points, or 1.01 percent, to 3,568, as investors there reacted to upcoming mainland initial public offerings. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 75.99 points, or 0.34 percent, to 22,188. Japan’s Nikkei was basically flat, gaining 18.55 points, or 0.09 percent, to 19,649.
European shares hovered around flat by the closing bell Wednesday. France’s CAC 40 shed 32.54 points, or 0.66 percent, to 4,905. The German DAX edged down 21.17 points, or 0.19 percent, to 10,949. London’s FTSE was also near flat, gaining 2.64 points, or 0.04 percent, to 6,271.