U.S. stocks clawed back from steep losses to close mixed on Wednesday after lackluster forecasts from Microsoft (MSFT) and other companies reporting earnings weighed on the market for much of the session.
The S&P 500 (^GSPC) was just below flat, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) turned positive, capping the day just above breakeven. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) was off by 0.2%.
Investors continued to barrel through a mild earnings season, with reports from names including Tesla (TSLA), IBM (IBM), and AT&T (T) all in the queue for Wednesday.
Microsoft’s stock was down just 0.6% after falling nearly 4% intraday after the company issued a weak earnings outlook. Results for the last quarter showed its cloud business slowed, offsetting optimism around earnings that came in better than expected. Its results come after the megacap giant last week laid off roughly 10,000 workers, citing a push into AI.
Separately, Microsoft experienced a global network outage Wednesday morning in its cloud platform Azure, along with offerings including Teams and Outlook.
Elsewhere in stock moves, Texas Instruments (TXN) shares dropped 1.1% after the chipmaker posted its worst sales decline since 2020, while revenue fell to $4.17 billion from $4.53 billion. Other semiconductors also fell following the results.
“As we expected, our results reflect weaker demand in all end markets with the exception of automotive,” CEO Rich Templeton said in the company’s earnings statement.
Shares of Fox (FOX) and News Corp. (NWSA) rose 2.3% and 5.7%, respectively, after media mogul Rupert Murdoch scrapped plans for a proposed Fox-News Corp merger. The companies were separated a decade ago.
Despite Wednesday’s declines and a few other downbeat sessions this year, stocks have been on an upward path in the first few weeks of January. Gains have been especially focused across technology stocks, with the Nasdaq Composite up around 8% to date.
“So far, price action in January 2023 bears an eerie resemblance to that in July 2022 when risk assets rallied and rates fell as investors bought into the idea of a ‘soft landing’ – the notion that slowing growth would slow inflation and obviate the need for further Fed hikes,” Gargi Chaudhuri, head of iShares investment strategy, Americas at BlackRock said in a note. “That argument faded and price action reversed as the Fed held firm and went on to hike policy rates by 75 basis points in September.”
“Fast forward to now, many investors once again seem convinced that inflation is all but beaten and that slower growth will not only obviate the need for further hikes, but even allow the Fed to cut rates before the end of the year,” she added.
Despite messaging from Federal Reserve policymakers that interest rates will rise above 5%, markets are pricing in a lower terminal rate as they anticipate a downshift to 25-basis points at the next meeting Jan. 31-Feb. 1.
The CME FedWatch Tool, a tool that gauges investor expectations for rates and U.S. monetary policy, shows markets are pricing in a 98.1% chance of a 0.25% increase next week — down slightly from as high as 99.8% earlier this week.
Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc
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