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Dow closes at record high as Disney jumps on streaming launch

CNBC logo CNBC 4 days ago Fred Imbert
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at an all-time high Wednesday as Disney popped and traders assessed testimony from the top-ranking Federal Reserve official.

The 30-stock average closed 92 points higher, notching intraday and closing records. Disney jumped 7% after the media giant said its Disney+ streaming service got more than 10 million sign-ups after launching Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 eked out a record closing high, ending the day up 0.07%. The Nasdaq, however, closed just below the flatline.

Gains were capped after Dow Jones reported U.S.-China trade talks have hit a snag over agricultural purchases. The report also said Beijing is resisting requests from the U.S. to curb tech transfers as well as enforcement mechanisms. China is also reportedly balking at commitments to specific farm purchases from the U.S.

The major indexes quickly pared gains following the report but later regained their footing.

“We can make the case for the market to go higher, but it’s going to be dependent on trade,” said James Ragan, the director of wealth management research at D.A. Davidson. “Not surprising that when we get more negative headlines on trade, the market pauses.”

“There’s a lot of pressure on the trade agreement,” he said. “if they’re not even able to sign a phase one trade deal, that’s pretty negative.”

CNBC’s Kayla Tausche reported the U.S. is trying to secure stronger concessions from China on intellectual-property theft enforcement and curb forced technology transfers. In exchange, the U.S. would roll back tariffs.

Wednesday’s news comes a day after The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the talks, that both sides where at an impasse on whether the U.S. should remove existing tariffs or would only cancel duties that are set to take effect on Dec. 15.

It also follows President Donald Trump telling the Economic Club of New York on Tuesday that China was “dying” to make a trade deal.

Fed’s Powell: Rates path unlikely to change if growth remains

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell addressed the Congressional Joint Economic Committee later in the day. In prepared remarks, he said the path of Fed interest rates is unlikely to change as long as the economy keeps growing.

“We see the current stance of monetary policy as likely to remain appropriate as long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with our outlook of moderate economic growth, a strong labor market, and inflation near our symmetric 2 percent objective,” he said in the prepared testimony.

However, he cautioned that challenges such as low inflation and weakness overseas remain.

Powell’s testimony comes after the Fed cut rates in October for the third time this year. After that meeting, Powell raised the bar for further cuts, but hinted the Fed was a long way off from raising rates.

“It now looks increasingly likely that the Fed will move to the side-lines for an extended period,” Andrew Hunter, a senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a note.

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq notched intraday records in the previous session. The Dow came within a hair of its all-time high Tuesday.

But Tim Courtney, a chief investment officer at Exencial Wealth Advisors, thinks the market could be primed for a pullback.

“We’re definitely at some pretty healthy levels valuation wise,” Courtney said. “I do think we’re going to have a 5% to 10% correction between now and the end of the year to maybe wash off some of the hot money that’s come into the market.”

On the data front, the U.S. consumer price index rose more than expected in October. The index increased by 0.4% last month, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters expected a gain of 0.3%.

CNBC’s Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.

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