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No action from Fed leads markets to mixed ending

·3-min read
Blockbuster earnings failed to help Apple shares

Wall Street ended trading mixed on Wednesday after the US Federal Reserve made no major changes to its monetary policy, while European markets rose.

Fed officials including Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged the US economy's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic is progressing, but judged it to be too soon to end the easy money policies rolled out as the downturn began last year.

The Dow finished lower but the Nasdaq gained, while the broad-based S&P 500 ended trading flat.

Investors were hoping for news from Powell on when the US central bank would draw down its massive bond-buying program meant to ease lending conditions, but the Fed chair revealed nothing.

Among members of the Fed's policy setting committee, "there's a range of views on what timing will be appropriate," he said. "No decisions were made."

In Europe, London added 0.3 percent, with travel shares up sharply after England dropped quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers from the EU and United States. Frankfurt also won 0.3 percent and Paris jumped 1.2 percent.

Madrid added 0.4 percent but Spanish bank Santander shed more than three percent despite the lender revealing that it rebounded into bumper quarterly profits.

- Healthy results, downbeat shares -

Wall Street also digested one of the busiest 24-hour stretches of earnings season, which featured mostly strong reports from a litany of huge companies, including Apple, Google-parent Alphabet, Starbucks and Boeing.

Several of the companies declined, suggesting investors believe "that it'll be hard to sustain the same level of growth moving forward and that a lot of the good news has been priced in," according to Briefing.com.

Apple's third-quarter profit, reported after markets closed Tuesday, rose to $21.7 billion on growth in iPhone sales and its increasingly important digital services.

Revenue surged 36 percent from a year ago to $81.4 billion, the best ever for the tech titan's fiscal third quarter, but its shares closed 1.2 percent lower.

"The problem with being the best is you risk becoming a victim of your own success," said Hargreaves Lansdown analyst Sophie Lund-Yates.

However, Boeing surged 4.2 percent after reporting a surprise profit in the quarter -- its first since late 2019 -- which will allow it to hold on to employees it had planned to lay off.

Asian markets mostly fell as fears over China's regulatory crackdown continued to reverberate around trading floors, following losses on Wall Street.

Hong Kong and Shanghai were in focus after suffering a difficult three days in the wake of Beijing unveiling a series of measures aimed at curbing a range of industries -- including tech and private tuition -- which has raised fears of further regulatory action.

Hong Kong rose more than one percent after oscillating wildly, but it made only a small dent in the more than nine percent drop suffered over the previous three days.

- Key figures around 2130 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.4 percent at 34,930.93 (close)

New York - S&P 500: FLAT at 4,400.64 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.7 percent at 14,762.58 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 4,103.03 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,016.63 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.3 percent at 15,570.36 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.2 percent at 6,609.31 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.4 percent at 27,581.66 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.5 percent at 25,473.88 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,361.59 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1843 from $1.1817 at 2100 GMT

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.17 pence from 85.41 pence

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3902 from $1.3879

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.90 yen from 109.78 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.4 percent at $74.79 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.0 percent at $72.37 per barrel

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