Market Snapshot: U.S. stocks open mixed as earnings reports roll in, Netflix shares fall

Market Snapshot: U.S. stocks open mixed as earnings reports roll in, Netflix shares fall

Netflix earnings in focus.

Lionel Bonaventure/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Stock benchmarks opened mostly lower Wednesday as investors monitored long-running fiscal stimulus talks in Washington and sifted through a stack of corporate earnings reports, including disappointing results from pandemic highflier Netflix Inc.

What are major benchmarks doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.46% fell 40 points to 28,269, a loss of 0.1%, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.56% was essentially flat at 3,444. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.69% was up 28 points or 0.3%, at 11,550.

The Dow on Tuesday rose 113.37 points, or 0.4%, to finish at 28,308.79, after rising as high as 28,575.03 earlier. The S&P 500 added 16.20 points to end at 3,443.12, a gain of 0.5%, while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 37.61 points or 0.3%, to 11,516.49.

What’s driving the market?

Stocks were buoyed Tuesday as talks over another fiscal stimulus plan between the Trump administration and House Democrats continued, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., waving off her self-imposed Tuesday deadline for a pre-election deal. Talks were set to continue on Wednesday.

The Republican-controlled Senate remains a potential sticking point, however, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., reportedly still reluctant to take up a large spending proposal.

“The markets are so focused on the election, but this is what’s driving the day-to-day,” said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist for Truist/SunTrust Advisory Services, in an interview . “Often the market is what puts pressure on Congress to act. But the markets have been steady and the economic data has been steady. The best thing for the market is that expectations have come back down. If we don’t get anything I think we’ll have a minor hiccup, but if we do get something we may get some upside. I don’t think it’s fatal to the economy to wait until after the election.”

Lerner expects the final weeks before the election to be “a sloppy trade with a lot of back and forth and not a lot of movement.” He sees it as a good opportunity to buy on any dips, and possibly to start rotating toward cyclical sectors like industrials XLI, +0.42% and materials. XLB, +0.94%

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In contrast, Charalambos Pissouros, senior market analyst at JFD Group, said in a Wednesday note that investors should continue to take developments day by day, warning that the continued rapid spread of COVID-19 could threaten the global economy if it forces further lockdowns of business activity. Investors might also be wary of increasing long positions in equities as the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election draws near, he said.

Read: Why stock-market investors are beginning to focus on Biden’s narrowing lead over Trump

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The U.S. corporate earnings reporting season remains in full swing also. Among the most closely watched names, results from Netflix Inc. NFLX, -5.36% disappointed investors after Tuesday’s closing bell, reflecting a slowdown in new subscribers and a wide miss on earnings. Shares in the video streaming giant were down more than 5% in early trade after rising more than 60% in the year to date as pandemic lockdowns fueled demand.

Several Federal Reserve officials will speak Wednesday. Gov. Lael Brainard, in remarks to the Society of Professional Economists in the U.K. said the U.S. would be in for “a slower and weaker recovery” if Congress failed to pass another aid package.

Later, Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester will discuss the economic outlook at a conference in the U.K. at 10 a.m. Eastern, while Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari is set to talk about education at a Minnesota event at noon. Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan is set to deliver a speech in Houston at noon Eastern.

The Fed’s Beige Book, a compilation of economic anecdotes, is scheduled for releaset 2 p.m. Eastern.

Which companies are in focus?

How are other markets trading?

In global equities, the Shanghai Composite SHCOMP, -0.09% closed down 0.1%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.75% gained 0.8% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index NIK, +0.30% advanced 0.3%. The pan-European Stoxx 600 Europe SXXP, -0.67%  was off 0.9%, while London’s FTSE 100 UKX, -1.33%   slid 1.4%.

Oil futures were lower in early trade, with the U.S. benchmark CL00, -1.63%  down 69 cents, or 1.7%, to $41.01 a barrel. Gold futures GCZ20, +0.68%,   were up $12.40 or 0.7%, to $1,927.80 an ounce.

The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, -0.43%  , a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was down 0.3%.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, 0.816%  was up almost 3 basis points to 0.815%, touching its highest since June on stimulus hopes. Yields and bond prices move in opposite directions.