Wall Street finished off the day of trading holding a mixed bag on Wednesday, as Automatic Data Processing Inc.’s (ADP) monthly employment report showed the private sector adding 238,000 jobs in December, well ahead of expectations for a gain of 200,000, the largest monthly increase for all of 2013.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 was off a slight 0.02 percent, ending the day at 1,837.49 points, while the Dow Industrials were down 0.41 percent to 16,462.74 points, and the NASDAQ went the opposite direction, adding 0.30 percent to close at 4,165.61.
The unexpected good jobs news from the ADP coincided with the Federal Reserve’s release of the minutes from its monthly meeting in December, after which the Central Bank announced the first round of cuts to its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases. For many investors, this was understood less as a preview of what the Department of Labor’s December report will look like than a sign that encouraging economic news would lead to the next phase of stimulus reduction would arrive sooner than later.
On the S&P 500, shares for semiconductor giant Micron Technology (MU) were 10 percent higher after the company’s release on the previous day of an impressive fiscal first-quarter 2014 earnings report showing substantial increases in revenue on both a sequential and a year-over-year basis. Despite this performance, tech shares overall put downward pressure on the benchmark index, with Microsoft (MSFT) , Cisco Systems (CSCO) , and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) all ending the day lower.
The Dow Industrials struggled as a result of tech stocks as well, with AT&T (T) and Verizon Communications (VZ) joining Microsoft as the index’s biggest losers on the day, followed by IBM (IBM) and Intel (INTC) . Major chemical manufacturer E.I. du Pont de Nemours (DD) led gainers on the Dow, adding over one percent, absorbing some of the bullishness generated by a strong earnings report from rival agricultural chemical manufacturer Monsanto (MON) .
The NASDAQ rose thanks to strong performances from tech hardware manufacturers, with Plug Power Inc. (PLUG) adding nearly 20 percent after announcing a deal with delivery services provider FedEx (FDX) , followed by a nearly 6 percent jump for ON Semiconductor Corp. (ONNN) . Information services provider Riverbed Technology Inc. (RVBD) , Facebook (FB) and Yahoo (YHOO) all ended the day higher.
Healthcare stocks posted notable gains as well, with Galena Biopharma Inc. (GALE) up over 16 percent, followed by a nearly identical performance from Zogenix Inc. (ZGNX) .