Stock indexes hold steady, and oil prices fall – Los Angeles Times

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U.S. stocks held steady in Wednesday morning trading, following sharp drops for markets around the world. Coming off its first three-day losing streak since the summer, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index flipped between small gains and losses in the first half-hour of trading.

The recent losses have been relatively gentle, and the S&P 500 is still up more than 17% for 2017. This year has been unusually calm and easy for investors, with steady and strong gains. If the S&P 500 finishes the day lower, it would mark its longest losing streak since January.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was virtually flat at 2,630 points as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. It flipped between a loss of 0.2% and a gain of 0.1% earlier in the morning.

The Dow Jones industrial average was steady at 24,180 points, and the Nasdaq composite was up 15 points, or 0.2%, at 6,777. Slightly more stocks fell on the New York Stock Exchange than rose.

MARKETS ABROAD: Asian markets slumped sharply earlier in the day, and Japan’s Nikkei 225 index lost 2%, its worst day since March. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 2.1%, and South Korea’s Kospi lost 1.4%.

In Europe, the losses were more muted. Germany’s DAX was down 1%, and France’s CAC 40 lost 0.4%. The FTSE 100 in London rose 0.3%.

ECONOMY: The main drivers for the stock market much of this year have been the improving global economy and a resulting jump in profits for businesses. A report out Wednesday implied that the U.S. job market continues to strengthen.

Private employers added 190,000 jobs last month, according to a report from payroll processor ADP. Economists see the report as a relatively good indication of what the more comprehensive federal government’s jobs tally will show.

That report arrives Friday, and it will be one of the last pieces of major economic data released before the Federal Reserve‘s meeting next week on interest rates. Most economists expect the Fed to raise rates, which would be the third increase of the year.

YIELDS: Treasury yields sank as prices for government bonds rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 2.31% from 2.35% late Tuesday. The two-year yield sank to 1.80% from 1.83%, and the 30-year yield fell to 2.70% from 2.73%.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 112.25 Japanese yen from 112.62 yen. The euro fell to $1.1794 from $1.1816, and the British pound retreated to $1.3370 from $1.3442.

COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude slid 86 cents, or 1.5%, to $56.74. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 89 cents to $61.97.

Gold ticked up $3.30 to $1,268.20 an ounce. Silver rose a penny to $16.08 an ounce. Copper recovered a fraction of its sharp loss from the day before and rose 4 cents to $2.98 a pound.