Wednesday's Top Stock Stories

Stocks opened sharply higher and remained there throughout the day. In the process, the Dow hit a new all-time high.

The averages moved in a fairly narrow range for most of the day but stretched its upper end of the range late in the day. The catalyst was testimony by Fed Chair Janet Yellen who advocated the trimming of the Fed's balance sheet sooner rather than later, and the release of the Fed's Beige Book report which said growth continued across all regions. Oil prices also moved higher following a report Saudi Arabia would limit oil exports because of its own increase in demand.

ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., EIA inventory data showed a 7.6M barrel fall in crude stocks, versus the consensus forecast for a 3.0M barrel decrease. In Fed news, the Federal Reserve's latest Beige Book read that economic activity expanded across all twelve Fed districts in June, with the pace of growth ranging from slight to moderate.

COMPANY NEWS: Amazon (AMZN) shares were 1.25% higher at the close after the company announced this morning that sales on July 11, its latest Prime Day, surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday to make it the biggest day ever in Amazon history. Meanwhile, another stock is sliding today in apparent response to even a hint of rising competition from the e-commerce giant, as Zillow Group (Z) shares dipped nearly 4% following real estate news site Inman's report that Amazon seems to be preparing to offer consumers the option to hire real estate agents through its professional services marketplace... While the threat of Amazon encroachment is weighing on Zillow, the potential from a new partnership with Apple (AAPL) is giving a boost to PayPal (PYPL). Shares of the payment services provider rose about 3.3% after the company announced that its customers will be able to pay for App Store, Apple Music, iTunes and iBooks purchases across iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices using their PayPal account... Meanwhile, Alphabet Class A (GOOGL) shares were 1.5% higher after the Wall Street Journal reported that Google's EUR1.11B tax bill was thrown out by a French administrative court, which backed the company's contention that its ad business has no taxable presence in France.

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