Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened steady on Wednesday, after the release of downbeat U.S. housing data, as investors awaited the minutes of the Federal Reserve''s latest policy meeting.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.03%, the S&P 500 eased 0.05%, while the Nasdaq Composite index dipped 0.03%.
The U.S. Commerce Department said earlier that the number of building permits issued last month declined by 5.4% to a seasonally adjusted 937,000 units from December’s total of 991,000. Analysts expected building permits to fall by 1.8% to 980,000 units in January.
The report also showed that U.S. housing starts plunged by 16% in January to hit a seasonally adjusted 880,000 units from December’s total of 1.048 million, disappointing expectations for a 5.7% drop to 950,000 units.
A separate report showed that producer prices increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.2% last month, above forecasts for a 0.1% gain, after rising 0.1% in December.
The core producer price index eased up 0.2% last month, above expectations for a 0.1% increase, after rising 0.3% in December.
Investors now looked ahead to the release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s January meeting later in the day, when the bank voted to cut its stimulus program by another $10 billion to $65 billion per month.
In the telecom sector, U.S.-trades BlackBerry shares plummeted 1.37% after Chief Executive Officer John Chen chastised T-Mobile US for encouraging users of his company’s devices to switch to Apple''s iPhone.
The news came a day after investor Daniel Loeb''s Third Point hedge fund disclosed it had bought 10 million Blackberry shares. The move made Third Point the No. 5 shareholder in the Canada-based company.
On the upside, Zale skyrocketed 40.97% after Signet Jewelers said it would acquire its smaller rival for approximately $690 million.
Among earnings, Herbalife reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, but shares in the nutritional-supplement company were still down 1.23% at the open of the U.S. trading session.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were mixed to lower. The EURO STOXX 50 fell 0.20%, France’s CAC 40 inched up 0.05%, Germany''s DAX slipped 0.11%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 shed 0.30%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index rose 0.34%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index slid 0.52%.
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