Stocks rallied in a big way after the minutes from the latest Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting showed that the Fed remains particularly cautious about raising interest rates in the face of a strengthening US dollar and a slowing global economy.
First, the scoreboard:
Dow: 16,994.2, +274.8, (+1.6%)
S&P 500: 1,968.9, +33.8, (+1.7%)
Nasdaq: 4,468.6, +83.4, (+1.9%)
And now the top stories on Wednesday:
1. The biggest story Wednesday was the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's September monetary-policy meeting. The minutes were interpreted as "dovish" by the market, essentially meaning that the market now expects the Fed to wait longer than it expected to raise interest rates after the end of its current quantitative-easing program, which is set to end this month. The minutes also showed a number of FOMC members were concerned about a strengthening US dollar and a slowing global economy. FOMC members also indicated that they want to eventually clarify that their forward guidance, or projections about when it might raise interest rates, will be data-dependent.
2. Aluminum giant Alcoa was scheduled to report third-quarter earnings after the market close on Wednesday, marking the unofficial start of the third-quarter corporate-earnings season. Expectations were for Alcoa to report earnings per share of $0.23 on revenue of $5.85 billion. Overall, S&P 500 companies have pared their expectations for Q3 earnings, with earnings growth now expected to come in at 4.6%, down from 9% at the end of the second quarter. You can read Business Insider's full earnings preview here.
3. Crude-oil prices continued to slide, falling another 1.5% to about $87.50 per barrel, and as Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal noted on Wednesday, there are two ways to take this move: the decline in oil signals a global slowdown, while cheaper gas could mean more take-home pay for consumers.
4. The Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday said that the US budget deficit plunged to $486 billion in fiscal 2014, the smallest deficit recorded since 2008 and the fifth consecutive year that the deficit declined as a percentage of GDP.
5. A report from the Brookings Institute showed that fiscal policies that have throttled back government spending have been a drag on economic growth since 2011.
6. Activist hedge fund investor Carl Icahn tweeted that he would be sending an "interesting" open letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook on Thursday. Icahn added that he would appear on CNBC on Thursday afternoon to discuss the letter. In the past, Icahn has urged Apple to increase its shareholder buyback as a way to return cash to shareholders.
7. Shares of Sears Holdings lost about 4% on Wednesday after a report from Bloomberg said that a "medium-sized" vendor had halted shipments to the retailer. Sears later responded to the report, which it called "misleading," and said that it continues to meet all of its obligations and that is has "significant financial flexibility."
8. GoPro shares fell more than 4% after two analysts issued cautious commentary on the stock. Analysts at Barclays said that while they do not expect the company's sales to slow, the end of the lock-up period that prevents company insiders from selling stock after the IPO could weigh on share prices later this year. Analysts at Piper Jaffray wrote that the stock's "current valuation leaves little room for additional upside."
(Newser) - Sarah Goldberg, an actress best known for her role as Matt Camden's wife Sarah Glass Camden on 7th Heaven, died of natural causes last month at age 40. "She went to sleep and didn’t wake up," her mother tells the Chicago Sun-Times . She was celebrating the... More »
(Newser) - Just hours after "'Till death do us part," a doctor was dead by his own hand after having murdered his new bride, police in Terre Haute, Ind., say. Investigators believe George "Scott" Samson, 54, shot Kelly Samson and then himself minutes after the last guests left... More »
(Newser) - Ahh, vanity: It gets us every time. A 34-year-old Ohio woman was hit with robbery, aggravated-robbery, and kidnapping charges all thanks, in part, to an unflattering Facebook photo. Monica Hargrove drove a friend to pick up a prescription on Aug. 30, only to allegedly pull a gun on her, rob... More »
(Newser) - The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the US has died, a Dallas hospital confirms. Thomas Eric Duncan , who has been kept in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital since Sept. 28, died at 7:51am, per a Facebook post made with "profound sadness and heartfelt disappointment" by the hospital.... More »
(Newser) - The goal was just, the execution anything but: In the 1940s, the US government pulled together an operation designed to find a cure for malaria, which infected some 500,000 American troops during WWII. How they went about doing so is revealed in Karen Masterson's new book, The Malaria ... More »
(Newser) - Ebola doesn't just cause a horrific death: It'll leave you with a massive hospital bill if you survive, reports Bloomberg . Care for Liberian national Thomas Duncan , who is in critical condition at a Dallas hospital, is costing up to $1,000 an hour, and analysts believe the bill... More »