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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Markets Lower in Return to Action

Charles Schwab: On the Market
Posted: 5/30/2017 4:15 PM ET

Markets Lower in Return to Action

U.S. equities fell modestly in their return to action from the long holiday weekend, amid some mixed economic news, and festering global political and geopolitical uncertainty. Treasuries rose amid reports showing personal income and spending matched expectations, but Consumer Confidence slipped slightly. The U.S. dollar, crude oil and gold were all slightly lower.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) declined 51 points (0.2%) to 21,029, the S&P 500 Index fell 3 points (0.1%) to 2,413, and the Nasdaq Composite moved 7 points (0.1%) lower to 6,203. In moderate volume, 768 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 1.7 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil ticked $0.14 lower to $49.66 per barrel and wholesale gasoline lost $0.01 to $1.62 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price decreased $5.26 to $1,262.84 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was 0.2% lower at 97.29.

Citigroup Inc. (C $62) announced an agreement to sell its Fixed Income Analytics and Index Businesses to London Stock Exchange Group PLC (LNSTY $11) for total cash consideration of $685 million. C traded modestly lower, while LNSTY gained ground.

Ensco PLC (ESV $6) announced an agreement to acquire Atwood Oceanics Inc. (ATW $10) in an all-stock transaction valued at about $863 million. Under the terms of the deal, Atwood shareholders will receive 1.60 shares of Ensco for each share owned, valuing Atwood at $10.72 per share. ATW jumped over 20%, while ESV was lower.

Personal income and spending in line with forecasts, Consumer Confidence dips

Personal income (chart) was up 0.4% month-over-month (m/m) in April, matching the Bloomberg forecast, and compared to March's unrevised 0.2% increase. Personal spending also rose 0.4% last month, in line with expectations and March's favorably revised 0.3% gain, from an initial flat reading. The April savings rate as a percentage of disposable income was 5.3%. The PCE Deflator was up 0.2%, matching expectations, after the prior month's 0.2% decline. Compared to last year, the deflator was 1.7% higher, in line with estimates. March's y/y figure was upwardly revised to a 1.9% increase. Excluding food and energy, the PCE Core Index was up 0.2% m/m, versus expectations of a 0.1% increase, and the index was 1.5% higher y/y, matching estimates. March's y/y figure was unrevised at a 1.6% increase.

The Consumer Confidence Index (chart) declined to 117.9 in May from the downwardly revised 119.4 in April, and compared to estimates of a 119.9 reading. Sentiment toward the present situation increased slightly, though the expectations of business conditions for the next six months decreased. On employment, the labor differential—consumers’ appraisal of jobs being “plentiful” minus being “hard to get”—rose to 11.7 from the downwardly revised 10.9 level posted in April.

The 20-city composite S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed a 5.9% gain in home prices y/y in March, versus expectations of a 5.8% increase. M/M, home prices were up 0.9% on a seasonally adjusted basis for March, above forecasts of a 0.8% gain.

The Dallas Fed Manufacturing Activity Index unexpectedly moved further to a level depicting expansion (a reading above zero). The index rose to 17.2 in May, from 16.8 in April, and compared to the expected decline to 15.4.

Treasuries finished higher, as the yield on the 2-year note dipped 1 basis point (bp) to 1.29%, while the yields on the 10-year note and the 30-year bond declined 3 bps to 2.22% and 2.89%, respectively. For analysis of the bond markets, see our article, Mixed Signals: What Does Recent Economic Data Mean for Bonds?, on the Insights & Ideas page at www.schwab.com, where you can also find Schwab's Vice President of Trading and Derivatives, Randy Frederick's and Chief Fixed Income Strategist, Kathy Jones' video, Fed Rate-Hike Cycle: How Can Bond Investors Prepare? Follow Randy and Kathy on Twitter: @randyafrederick and @kathyjones. Also, for more on the Fed as it tries to walk the fine line between raising interest rates and reducing its bloated balance sheet, see Schwab’s Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders' latest article, Gimme Three Steps … and a Stumble?, where she discusses the transition from quantitative easing (QE) to quantitative tightening (QT) on the Markets & Economy page at www.schwab.com. Follow Liz Ann on Twitter: @lizannsonders.

Although this week's economic calendar will be truncated by Monday's holiday, it will bring plenty of data to digest ahead of the Fed's monetary policy meeting later in June. Tomorrow’s Fed Beige Book, the ISM Manufacturing Index and monthly auto sales are some highlights from the docket, but the week will culminate with Friday's key May nonfarm payroll report. Other reports slated for release tomorrow include the Chicago PMI Index, forecasted to decline to 57.5 this month from April’s 58.3, as well as pending home sales, with economists anticipating the pipeline of existing home sales to have increased 0.5% m/m in April following the prior month’s 0.8% decline, and MBA Mortgage Applications.

As noted in the latest Schwab Market Perspective: Unprecedented! Or Maybe Not?, U.S. markets were roiled by so-called "unprecedented" political issues but bounced back quickly. Investing based on political winds is not likely to be a successful strategy and we urge focus on economic and earnings fundamentals. The U.S. economy is bouncing back from the weak first quarter while the labor market continues to tighten. A June rate hike by the Federal Reserve remains on the table for now. Global growth has picked up, but the recent slowdown and inversion of the yield curve in China are causing some concerns. Read more on the Markets & Economy page at www.schwab.com.

Europe mostly lower, Asia mixed as global markets set to get back to action

European equities finished mostly lower with some markets returning to action following yesterday's holiday, while political uncertainty flared up ahead of next week's election in the U.K. as Brexit negotiations continue. Also, Italian election risk gained ground after Democratic Party leader Renzi pushed for an early election, while Germany is set to hold an election later this year. For analysis, see Schwab's Chief Global Investment Strategist Jeffrey Kleintop's, CFA, and Randy Frederick's video, Political Risk: How Should Investors Respond? on the Insights & Ideas page at www.schwab.com, where you can also find our article, Brexit Begins: What's Next for the U.K?. Geopolitical uncertainty also festered amid rhetoric between the U.S. and Germany regarding trade and defense. In economic news, France's Q1 GDP growth topped forecasts, while eurozone consumer, economic and business sentiment all deteriorated. The euro and British pound ticked higher versus the U.S. dollar, while bond yields traded mostly to the downside. The markets also digested some comments from European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi, which appeared to foster a dovish reaction, as he reiterated that it is still too early to consider pulling back its highly accommodative monetary policy stance. Oil & gas issues declined as crude oil prices extended last week's drop, while financials also saw some pressure on the lower bond yields, comments from the ECB's Draghi and the flared up political and geopolitical uneasiness.

Stocks in Asia finished mixed as the U.S. and some European markets returned to action following yesterday's holiday, though Chinese markets remained closed for a holiday. The markets are grappling with political uncertainty in the U.S. and Europe, along with geopolitical concerns as North Korea continued to conduct missile tests and rhetoric out of Germany toward the U.S. For analysis see, Schwab's Jeffrey Kleintop's, CFA, articles, Missiles and Markets: An investor guide to geopolitical risks on the Markets & Economy page at www.schwab.com, as well as, Top Five Trade Issues Investors Should Be Watching on the International Investing page at www.schwab.com. Stocks in Japan finished little changed, as traders digested data showing the nation's household spending fell more than expected but retail sales grew by a larger amount than projected, while the yen gained some ground. South Korean equities declined, while those traded in Australia overcame early weakness to finish higher, and Indian listings advanced, remaining at record high levels.

International reports for tomorrow include manufacturing and services PMIs from China, business confidence from Australia, housing data from Japan, GDP from India, employment figures and retail sales from Germany, PPI and CPI from France, as well as CPI and employment data from the Eurozone.

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