Risk of Overvaluation

U.S. Stocks Drift from All-Time Highs Amid Earnings Season

Equity markets fell, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 pulling back from record levels.

The Dow and broader U.S. stock market declined on Wednesday, as investors kept their eye on corporate earnings and economic data.

Wall Street’s major averages were mixed at the close, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) falling 265.40 points, or 0.7%, to 35,491.48.

The broad S&P 500 Index (SPY) of large-cap stocks declined 0.5% to close at 4,551.68. Most sectors finished in negative territory.

Meanwhile, the technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index (QQQ) flat-lined to close at 15,235.84.

A measure of implied volatility known as the CBOE VIX (VXX) rose on Wednesday. The so-called “investor fear index” reached an intraday high of 16.78 on a scale of 1-100, where 20 represents the historical average. It would eventually settle up 4.3% at 16.69.

In commodities, oil prices were lower on Wednesday, as U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures fell $2.49, or 2.9%, to $82.16 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the international futures contract, declined $2.19, or 2.5%, to $84.21 a barrel.

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In precious metals, gold prices rose, as the December futures contract climbed $3.50, or 0.2%, to $1,796.90 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Silver futures climbed 5 cents, or 0.2%, to trade at $24.14 a troy ounce.

The Final Word: U.S. corporate earnings are coming in better than expected for the third quarter. With 84% of companies reporting, the blended earnings growth rate for S&P 500 companies is 32.7%, the highest since 2010, according to FactSet.