Stocks ended the day relatively unchanged on Wednesday, following an upwardly revised reading on second-quarter U.S. economic growth and an upbeat report on pending home sales.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,107.48, up 4.49 points or unchanged on a percentage basis. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1410.49, up 1.19 points or less than 0.1 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,009.79, down 0.11 point.
The tame moves fit in with an exceptionally calm week for trading activity, with the S&P 500 failing to move more than 0.1 per cent for the past three days.
The economic backdrop was positive, however. U.S. economic growth in the second quarter was revised up to 1.7 per cent from 1.5 per cent previously, at an annualized pace – in line with expectations, though still reflecting sluggish economic activity.
The housing sector provided more encouragement. Pending home sales in July rose 2.4 per cent – and 15 per cent over last year – touching a two-year high. That suggests existing home sales should also move higher.
In the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book of economic conditions, released on Wednesday afternoon, economic activity continued to “expand gradually” since mid-July but employment either held steady or grew slightly. That provided little insight into whether the Fed was gearing up for another round of economic stimulus. On Friday, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at an economic conference at Jackson Hole, where some believers expect he might provide an indication of where Fed policy is headed.
Yelp Inc. surged 22.5 per cent after a 180-day lockup period following the company’s initial public offering ended. The shares had fallen sharply in the lead-up to the end of the lockup period though.
Among commodities, crude oil fell to $5.49 (U.S.) a barrel, down 84 cents. Gold fell to $1,663 an ounce, down $6.70. Among Canadian commodity producers, Barrick Gold Corp. fell 1.6 per cent and Suncor Energy Inc. fell 1.1 per cent.