U.S. equities finished mixed in their return to action from yesterday’s Independence Day holiday, as strength in the tech sector was tempered by a decline in energy stocks amid a tumble in crude oil prices on flared-up OPEC production cut uncertainty. Treasuries were modestly higher following a factory orders report and the release of the Fed’s June meeting minutes, while appearing to shrug off yesterday’s first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by North Korea. Gold was higher, while the U.S. dollar was nearly unchanged.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost 1 point to 21,478, the S&P 500 Index gained 5 points (0.2%) to 2,434, while the NASDAQ Composite increased 41 points (0.7%) to 6,151. In moderate volume, 885 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 1.9 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ. WTI crude oil dropped by $1.94 to $45.13 per barrel and wholesale gasoline lost $0.03 to $1.50 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price gained $3.14 to $1,226.56 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was nearly flat at 96.24.

At 2:00 p.m. ET, the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its June monetary policy decision, in which it raised its target for the fed funds rate by 25 bps and provided some insight into its plans to reduce the size of its balance sheet. The report showed that the Committee was divided on the timing of the balance sheet program, noting, ” Several preferred to announce a start to the process within a couple of months,’ but others’ emphasized that deferring the decision until later in the year would permit additional time to assess the outlook for economic activity and inflation.” At the June meeting the Fed said it would trim holdings on Treasuries initially at $6 billion per month, increasing by $6 billion every three months over 12 months, until it reaches $30 billion. For agency- and mortgage-backed securities, the cap would begin at $4 billion, and rise by $4 billion every three months until it hits $20 billion a month. The Committee also reiterated its stance for continued gradual rate increases.

Schwab Center for Financial Research – Market Analysis Group

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