Stocks Waver as Oil Tumbles but Apple Lifts Nasdaq

New York (Sept 14)  Stocks remained mixed by mid-afternoon Wednesday as a selloff in crude resumed.

The S&P 500 was down 0.14%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.23%. The Nasdaq remained in the green, rising 0.2%, thanks to a boost from Apple (AAPL) shares.

Crude oil prices fell back into the red on Wednesday despite data showing another decline in crude inventories in the past week. The Energy Information Administration reported a decline of 600,000 barrels in crude stocks over the past week, a welcome sign of diminishing supplies in the face of tepid demand. The American Petroleum Institute reported an increase in U.S. crude oil inventories of 1.4 million barrels overnight.

Crude sold off on Wednesday after the International Energy Agency said global demand growth was slowing by more than previously thought. The energy watchdog predicted the slowdown would continue in 2017. Commodity traders are already nervous over ballooning international supply.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed 2.9% lower at $43.58 a barrel on Wednesday.

Markets have moved in a wide range over the past three days as Federal Reserve chatter left investors uncertain which way officials will vote at next week's policy meeting. Chances of an increase in interest rates this month now sit at around 15%, according to CME Group fed funds futures, after welcome dovish remarks from Fed Gov. Lael Brainard at the beginning of the week. The December meeting has higher chances at 45%.

"The set of prevailing conditions do not support further rate hikes, but we do expect most policymakers to hold out hope that a hike could soon be warranted," Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note. "This lends itself to the [Federal Open Market Committee] delivering a fairly benign statement that leaves the door open to hiking this year, then lets the incoming data either support it, or push hopes into next year."

Source: TheStreet