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Workers produce truck parts at a factory in Qingzhou, in China’s eastern Shandong province on June 30, 2021.

AFP via Getty Images

Global stocks tilted lower Wednesday, at the tail end of a largely stronger first half of the year.

Economic data is swinging back into focus, with the June ADP private-sector employment report showing a slowdown in hiring from May. Data showed an increase of 692,000 private payrolls in June, above expectations for 550,000, but down from the 886,000 jobs added in May. Pending home sales data are due later this morning. But the biggest data point for investors will be Friday’s nonfarm payrolls data for June.

Futures on the  Dow Jones Industrial Average  dropped 10 points, or 0.04%, while S&P 500  futures fell 0.1%, and Nasdaq Composite  futures were little changed. The S&P 500 is looking at an 8% gain for the second quarter and a 15% rise over six months, according to FactSet.

Worries over the highly contagious Delta strain of Covid-19 may be weighing on investors on Wednesday. “The delta variant is now traveling the world in a worrisome speed, hampering the prospects of economic recovery, yet again,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote, in a note to clients.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index was under pressure, dropping 0.5% amid losses for banks and autos. The index was still set for a nearly 13% gain in the first half of the year. Data showed German jobless claims fell by 38,000 in June against a forecast for a fall of 20,000 from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

Asian equities finished mixed, with the Nikkei 225 index stalling, though finishing the first half of 2021 just under 5% higher, according to FactSet. China’s CSI 300 index gained 0.6%, with around a 3.5% rise in the first half. An official gauge of China’s factory activity slipped in June, dented by chip and power supply shortages, while nonmanufacturing growth also slowed amid rising Covid-19 cases.

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi, which priced its initial public offering at $14, will make its trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday under the ticker DIDI. 

Micron Technology stock (ticker: MU) rose 1.4% after getting upgraded to Outperform from Market Perform at BMO Capital Markets.

Virgin Galactic Holdings (SPCE) stock fell 4.5% after getting downgraded to Underperform from Buy at Bank of America. This comes after the stock has gained more than 60% in the past month.  

Seagate Technology  (STX) stock rose 0.8% after getting upgraded to Equal Weight from Underweight at Barclays. 

Masco  (MAS) stock rose 2.5% after getting upgraded to Buy from Neutral at Goldman Sachs. 

Bed Bath & Beyond  (BBBY) stock fell 0.2% after reporting a profit of 5 cents a share—missing forecasts for 8 cents a share—on sales of $1.95 billion, above expectations for $1.87 billion.

Write to Jacob Sonenshine at jacob.sonenshine@barrons.com