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U.S. equities ease from records ahead of busy economic calendar

U.S. stocks were seesawing between small gains and losses for most of today's session, ending the day slightly lower with the S&P 500 retreating from its record close reached yesterday. Thursday and Friday are set to be busy days for economic reports. The ASX SPI 200 is off 13 points to 5524.

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U.S. stocks were seesawing between small gains and losses for most of today's session, ending the day slightly lower with the S&P 500 retreating from its record close reached yesterday.

At the closing bell in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average settled down 42 points at 16,633, while the Nasdaq lost 12 points to 4,225 and the S&P 500 edged down 2 points to 1,910.

While Thursday and Friday are set to be busy days for economic reports, there were no government reports scheduled for today. The Energy Department's typical Wednesday release of oil and gas inventories has been pushed back until tomorrow due to the Memorial Day holiday on Monday.

European markets finished mixed today, as unemployment in Germany unexpectedly rose in May in adjusted terms. Asian markets settled in the green on Wednesday, helped by the strong finish for U.S. equities last night, with the Dow also finishing within 40 points of a new high yesterday.

All the U.S. major averages are still positive for the month, led by the Nasdaq with an almost 3% gain.


Commodities

August gold fell 0.5% to settle at US$1,259.70 an ounce, while crude fell 1.3% to finish at US$102.72 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


Wall Street round-up

In corporate activity, luxury goods maker Michael Kors (NYSE:KORS) was among the companies out with quarterly results this morning, saying fourth quarter profit surged 59%, with shares up 1.2% on better-than-expected results.

Shoe retailer DSW (NYSE:DSW) tanked more than 27% Wednesday after its results fell short of expectations due to tough weather and competitive discounting. The discount shoe retailer also cut its full year earnings guidance by 35 cents on each end.

Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) shares, meanwhile, were up 2.5% after the home builder reported better-than-expected fiscal second-quarter results Wednesday, with earnings that more than doubled to $65.2 million, or 35 cents a share.

In other news, Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:VRX) has raised the cash component of its bid for botox maker Allergan (NYSE:AGN) by $10 above the previous offer. Separately, Valeant has also sold the rights to several of its skincare products to Nestle for $1.4 billion in cash.

McDonald's Corp. (NYSE:MCD) is planning to return between $18 billion and $20 billion to shareholders from 2014 to 2016, either in the form of dividends or by buying back shares, CEO Don Thompson told an investor conference Wednesday. The total represents a 10% to 20% increase over the amount of cash returned between 2011 and 2013.

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) price target was raised to $700 from $615 at Bernstein Research on Wednesday ahead of the newest iPhone and iWatch launch. The Bernstein analyst is expecting investor anticipation will be high for the iPhone 6 due to its new larger form, which could entice Android users who value a larger screen to switch.

Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) shares rallied 9.7% after Nomura upgraded the stock, saying that despite worries about slower user growth, the social network is still managing to cash in on its enormous base.

 

Proactive Investors Australia is the market leader in producing news,articles and research reports on ASX “Small and Mid-cap” stocks with distribution in Australia, UK, North America and Hong Kong / China.

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