By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — U.S. stock markets opened mixed on Wednesday, struggling to make any real headway after falling in the previous session amid fears for the strength of the U.S. and global economies.
Weaker-than-expected economic data for August out of China, where growth in both retail sales growth and industrial production slowed sharply, continued to weigh on sentiment, offsetting any relief at the sight of Democratic lawmakers watering down some of their tax hike plans. Industrial production in the U.S. also slowed in August, but only to a still-respectable 0.4% on the month.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) stock stood out from the generally lackluster backdrop, rising 1.4% after the software giant announced a new $60 billion buyback program and raised its quarterly dividend by 11%.
Wynn Resorts stock (NASDAQ:WYNN) fell sharply for a second straight day, down 8.1% on concerns that new regulations of casinos in Macau – which accounts for over one-third of Wynn’s revenue – will stunt its business in China. Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) stock, which also has significant exposure to Macau, fell another 3.6%.
Higher oil and natural gas prices supported stocks in the sector, with Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) stock rising 2.8% and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) stock rising 1.8%. An acute squeeze in European energy markets, coupled with ongoing tightness in Asian LNG markets, has lifted Henry Hub gas prices to their highest since 2009. Shale gas specialist Chesapeake Energy (NASDAQ:CHK) stock surged 5.1% to a fresh record high since it emerged from bankruptcy.
Also rising was Canadian National Railway (NYSE:CNI) stock, which jumped 3.6% after the rallroad operator formally withdrew its bid for U.S. rival Kansas City Southern (NYSE:KSU). The move makes the takeover of KCS by Canadian Pacific Railway (NYSE:CP) all but a formality.
Elsewhere, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) stock fell 3.0% with some investors apparently switching funds out to invest in the IPO of rival coffee chain Dutch Bros (NYSE:BROS), which priced its initial public offering at $23 a share on Tuesday. The IPO elicited comparisons on valuation that are not necessarily in Starbucks’ favor, given Dutch Bros’ faster growth.
Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) stock was another loser, the videogames publisher falling 6.4% on unconfirmed rumors of a delay to the launch of its Battlefield 2042 game.
Wall Street Opens Flat to Lower as Economic Fears Persist; Dow Down 15 Pts
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