Stocks Mixed After Volatile Session
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. equity markets closed mixed Wednesday following a strong rally in Japan on the prospect of looser monetary policy there.
The gap-up Wednesday on Japan's Nikkei came a day after Bank of Japan Gov. Masaaki Shirakawa told reporters in Tokyo that he would step down on March 19, likely paving the way for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to implement a greater quantitative-easing policy he has pushed for.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 7 points to 13,987.
Walt Disney (DIS) shares also rose a day after the company said fiscal first-quarter profit dipped slightly but beat expectations. The company earned 77 cents a share on revenue of $11.3 billion. Shares finished up 0.4%.
In the broad market, sectors were mixed. Laggards included energy, consumer non-cyclicals, conglomerates and technology. Consumer cyclicals and basic materials were the biggest gainers.
Volumes totaled 3.54 billion on the New York Stock Exchange and 2 billion on the Nasdaq. Gainers outpaced decliners by a 1.4-to-1 ratio on the Big Board, and 1.2-to-1 on the Nasdaq.
"Japan has been hot on the hopes of more quantitative easing and, again, today it's one of the biggest days of the year," said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist with Schaeffer's Investment Research. "Clearly, people continue to buy the yen; the yen continues to drop massively, and that's creating a pretty good bid for the Nikkei and for their stocks."
Asian markets surged on Wednesday as the rally in Japan encouraged momentum in most of the major markets there. Japan's Nikkei average rose 3.8% overnight to close at 11464. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.5% to 23,257.