Stocks mixed; eyes on Ukraine

Lucas Jackson | Reuters Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Lucas Jackson | Reuters
Traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. stocks shaved morning gains to trade mixed on Wednesday amid hopes of easing tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

Earlier, the S&P 500 traded at record highs and the Nasdaq and Nasdaq 100 were also at 14-year highs before falling to a narrow trading range.

“The factory order numbers didn’t have a huge impact,” said Randy Frederick, managing trader of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “I think the futures were higher primarily this morning because of Ukraine.”

Stocks had opened positive on the possibility of a cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia.

“First and foremost, coming into the morning, the driver is the possibility of the cease-fire impact on markets globally and domestically,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. “We’ll see if that holds.”

Read More Stocks spike amid confusion over Ukraine cease-fire

“I think right now the market is going up on hopes of Ukraine,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. “But there are other things we have to look at too.”

Boosted by transports, July factory orders rose 10.5 percent, signifying a trend of stronger manufacturing.

Auto sales for August will also come out on Wednesday, with Fiat subsidiary Chrysler already reporting a 20 percent gain for the month and expecting U.S. figures to rise 3 percent annually, beating expectations of a 0.1 percent gain.

The data “could be market movers as well,” Nick Raich, CEO of The Earnings Scout, said. “The rest of the world is slowing and the U.S. is doing pretty well.”

Read More S&P 500 unlikely to budge far from 2,000 on Wednesday

U.S. stock index futures and European indexes traded higher early on Wednesday, on the possibility of a “cease-fire” between Russia and Ukraine.

“Mutual understanding was achieved concerning the steps which will enable the establishment of peace,” the Ukrainian presidential press office said on Wednesday, following a telephone conversation between President Petro Poroshenko and Russian premier, Vladimir Putin.

However, the press office later toned down the statement after Russia denied the deal.

Pro-Russian separatists have been battling Kiev’s forces in the mainly Russian-speaking Donbass region, which is home to most of Ukraine’s heavy industry and accounts for about 18 percent of the country’s economic output.

DJIA Dow Jones Industrial Average 17127.87
60.31 0.35%
S&P 500 S&P 500 Index 2006.27
3.99 0.20%
NASDAQ Nasdaq Composite Index 4593.14
-5.05 -0.11%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shaved early gains to rise 54 points, or 0.32 percent, at 17,123, with Merck leading blue-chip gains and Microsoft and Home Depot among the six laggards.

The S&P 500 hovered at 2,006, a gain of about 3 points or 0.17 percent, with utilities in the lead as all sectors but information technology gained.

The Nasdaq lost early gains to trade nearly 7 points lower, or 0.14 percent, at 4,592.

For every two advancers, one declined on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 128 million and a composite volume above 619 million in mid-morning trade.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yielded 2.44 percent. The U.S. dollar declined slightly against major world currencies.

Crude oil futures traded $1.42 higher on the New York Mercantile Exchange, at $94.30 a barrel. Gold futures rose $1.50, or 0.12 percent, to $1,266.5 an ounce.

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Samsung unveiled two large-screen phones and a virtual reality device on Wednesday at simultaneous events in New York, Beijing and Berlin. This comes ahead of Apple‘s expected unveiling of the iPhone 6 next week.

Nokia said it is releasing new free mapping apps for consumers, trying to compete with similar services from Google and Apple. Nokia said they would be released before the end of the year, and that unlike competitive products, they will work without an internet connection.

Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported that mobile operator Vodafone may be a takeover target for Japan’s SoftBank.

CVS Caremark announced it is changing its corporate name to CVS Health, following a seven-month process aimed at removing tobacco products from its stores.

Netflix said it reached a deal with Warner Brothers to become the exclusive on-demand provider for the TV series “Gotham.”

JPMorgan Chase was upgraded to “buy” from “neutral” at Nomura Securities, which downgraded Bank of America to “neutral” from “buy” at the same time. The ratings changes were based largely on each bank’s ability to deal with new capital requirements.

Read More Fed: US consumers have decided to ‘hoard money’

Toll Brothers, the largest U.S. luxury homebuilder, said its quarterly income more than doubled. Also reporting before the bell, Vince Holding said its sales increased nearly 17 percent and saw continued momentum in e-commerce.

H&R Block and PVH will post numbers after markets close.

U.S. stocks mostly fell on Tuesday, but the S&P 500 held above 2,000 after hitting another intraday record.

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