U.S. stocks dropped Wednesday, as oil prices turned negative after U.S. crude inventories rose more than expected last week, surging to an 80-year high. Oil prices have lost nearly 50 percent of their value since last summer after peaking at $115 in June. Meanwhile, strong earnings from media and entertainment giant The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) helped lift the Dow in morning trading Wednesday, offsetting earlier losses driven by the decline in crude oil prices.
In morning trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which measures the share prices of 30 large industrial companies, added 24.73 points, or 0.14 percent, at 17,691.13; the S&P 500 stock index fell 4.55 points, or 0.23 percent, at 2,045.48; and the Nasdaq Composite declined 14.31 points, or 0.30 percent, at 4,713.43.
Oil Prices Erase Gains After Inventories Surge To 80-Year High
U.S. oil inventories, which is the amount of oil currently stored for future use, rose by 6.3 million barrels from the previous week, the Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. Currently at 413.1 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories have surged to the highest seasonal level in at least 80 years.
Oil prices traded in negative territory Wednesday, erasing gains made during the previous session after U.S. crude rallied above $53 a barrel, its highest close of 2015. The futures contract for the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude fell 4.15 percent Wednesday, to $50.85 a barrel, for March 15 delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Meanwhile, Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, lost 2.87 percent Wednesday, to $56.25 a barrel, for March 15 delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
Shares Of GM, Disney Jump After Earnings Beat Street
Shares of General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) jumped more than 2 percent, to $34.94, in morning trading after the auto giant reported a higher-than-expected profit last quarter, smashing Wall Street estimates due to strong U.S. sales offsetting recall costs from defective ignition switches. GM also announced it plans to raise its dividend by 20 percent.
GM reported fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $1.1 billion, or 66 cents a share, from $900 million, or 57 cents a share, a year ago. For 2014, GM’s profit fell by $1 billion, to $2.8 billion from $3.8 billion for 2013.
Dow component The Walt Disney Company's stock price jumped more than 7 percent, to $101.10, in morning trading after the world’s largest media and entertainment company smashed earnings expectations, driven by strong merchandise sales from "Frozen" during the holiday quarter.
The company reported fiscal first-quarter net income rose 19 percent, to $2.18 billion, or $1.27 a share, on revenue of $13.4 billion, compared with $1.84 billion, or $1.03 a share, on sales of $12.3 billion for the same period a year ago.
U.S. Private Sector Adds Fewer Jobs Last Month Ahead Of Friday’s Employment Report
U.S. stocks fell in premarket trading after the U.S. private sector created fewer jobs than expected last month, weighing on investor optimism ahead of Friday’s highly anticipated government jobs report for January.
U.S. private employers added 213,000 jobs in January vs. estimates for 225,000, the ADP National Employment Report showed Wednesday. Meanwhile, private payrolls were revised higher in December to 253,000 from the previously reported 241,000.
Separate data Wednesday showed economic activity in the U.S. services sector grew more than expected in January. The Institute of Supply Management’s nonmanufacturing index rose to 56.7 in January from 56.2 in December. January’s figures beat analysts’ expectations for 56.3, according to Reuters data.