US close: Dow Jones ends session flat as Q3 earnings season begins

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Wall Street stocks turned in a mixed performance on Wednesday as market participants digested major bank earnings and a hotter-than-expected monthly inflation report.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat at 34,377.81, while the S&P 500 was 0.30% firmer at 4,363.80 and the Nasdaq Composite saw out the session 0.73% higher at 14,571.64.

The Dow closed just 0.53 points lower on Wednesday, narrowly extending losses recorded in the previous session after the International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecasts.

Wednesday’s primary focus was a report that revealed headline inflation rose at a faster-than-expected pace in the US last month, pushed higher by climbing food and energy prices.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index increased 0.4% in September on a seasonally adjusted basis, after rising 0.3% in August. The annual rate was 5.4% before seasonal adjustments. Both figures were higher than forecast, with economists looking for CPI of 0.3% month-on-month and 5.3% annually.

Bank earnings were also in focus, with JPMorgan kicking things off before the opening bell as it beat on both the top and bottom lines thanks to better-than-expected loan losses, while Blackrock beat quarterly profits as rising asset levels boosted fee income.

Delta Air Lines also reported its latest quarterly figures before the open, with its $1.2bn in profits being overshadowed by a warning on jet fuel prices.

Also in the corporate space, Apple stock closed lower after Bloomberg reported the tech giant was likely to cut iPhone production on the back of global chip shortages.

Elsewhere on the macro front, mortgage applications increased a modest 0.2% in the week ended 8 October, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, with a 1.5% rise in the purchase index from 275.7 to 279.8 offsetting a 0.5% decline in the refinancing index to 3,023.0 from 3,037.6.

Lastly, minutes from the Federal Open Markets Committee‘s latest meeting revealed the Federal Reserve could begin slowing the pace of its $120.0bn monthly asset purchases as soon as mid-November, with its target date to end all purchases, assuming there are no disruptions, being mid-2022.