By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — U.S. stock markets opened higher on Wednesday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite hitting a new record high, as a measure of confidence returned to a market unsettled by oil price volatility and Chinese regulatory issues.
By 9:45 AM ET (1345 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 63 points, or 0.2%, at 34,640 points. The S&P 500 was up 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.4%.
Paradoxically, the market was helped by further signs of nervousness about the near-term growth outlook, which led to bond yields falling to their lowest in some weeks. Lower bond yields typically support the valuations of tech companies and startups, whose long-term returns are more sensitive to low capital costs. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield fell to its lowest since February, at 1.33%. Adjusted for current inflation - admittedly a figure that is itself distorted by various pandemic-related factors - that means that the real yield on Treasuries is below -3%.
Bank stocks underperformed, as the decline in yields threatened to put further pressure on their lending margins. JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) stock fell 0.2%, while Citigroup (NYSE:C) stock fell 0.5% and Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) stock fell 1.2%.
The major indices later trimmed their gains after the Labor Department's monthly JOLTs job openings survey fell short of expectations, registering little change in the number of vacancies in May. Analysts had expected another clear rise to what would have been a third straight all-time high.
Didi Global (NYSE:DIDI) ADRs continued their wretched run, shedding another 5.1% amid fears that the ride-hailing giant faces a long and punishing struggle with China's regulators over its data policy, having already angered them with a breakneck dash to market last week. That Didi compressed its marketing period into only three days to ensure a quick placement has raised questions about whether it withheld knowledge of the regulator's plans before they became public at the weekend. Didi's ADRs fell by more than 20% in response to news that regulators had ordered the withdrawal of Didi's app from all Chinese app stores.
In the world of meme stocks, AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) stock continued its slide in the wake of the company cancelling plans for an expansion funded by new equity issuance. The plans had been resisted by some of the cinema operator's vocal retail investors, but the lack of fresh money, combined with growing fears about a fresh surge in coronavirus cases due to the spreading delta variant, pushed it down 13% to its lowest in nearly a month.
Oil and gas stocks meanwhile were hit by a fresh drop in crude prices after a Wall Street Journal report spelled out the determination of the United Arab Emirates - OPEC's third-largest producer - to raise its output. The UAE's resistance to a Russian-Saudi proposal for a series of limited monthly output increases through the rest of the year has raised the risk that individual members of the so-called OPEC+ bloc will start another free-for-all in pursuit of market share. Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) stock fell 3.1%, while Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) stock fell 2.0%. Royal Dutch Shell (LON:RDSa) ADRs (NYSE:RDSa) outperformed after the Anglo-Dutch giant promised earlier to accelerate its program to increase shareholder returns.