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Monday, December 04, 2017

Dow Continues Rally, Techs Sock Nasdaq

Charles Schwab: On the Market
Posted: 12/4/2017 4:15 PM EST

Dow Continues Rally, Techs Sock Nasdaq
The Dow added to its recent surge, with economic optimism getting a boost from another strong read on domestic business spending, while the Senate's passage of its tax reform bill over the weekend added to the enthusiasm. However, sustained weakness in the tech sector continued to weigh on the Nasdaq. Treasury yields and the U.S. dollar were higher ahead of a busy week of economic reports that will culminate with Friday's nonfarm payroll report, while crude oil and gold were lower.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) rose 58 points (0.2%) to 24,290, the S&P 500 Index lost 3 points (0.1%) to 2,639, and the Nasdaq Composite tumbled 72 points (1.1%) to 6,775. In heavy volume, 987 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.4 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil fell $0.89 to $57.47 per barrel and wholesale gasoline declined $0.05 to $1.69 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price decreased $4.42 to $1,276.20 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was 0.4% higher at 93.23.

CVS Health Corp. (CVS $72) announced an agreement to acquire Aetna Inc. (AET $179) for $207 per share in cash and stock, valued at about $69 billion, excluding debt. Under the terms of the deal, Aetna stockholders will receive $145 in cash and 0.8378 CVS Health shares for each share owned. Shares of both companies were lower.

Italy's Prysmian SpA (PRYMY $16) announced an agreement to acquire Kentucky-based General Cable Corp. (BGC $30) for $30 per share in cash, for a total value of about $3 billion, including the assumption of debt. Shares of BGC rallied over 35%.

Dollar, rates and stocks gain ground on tax reform and continued robust business spending

Treasuries finished lower, as the yield on the 2-year note rose 3 basis points (bps) to 1.80%, while the yields on the 10-year note and the 30-year bond advanced 1 bp to 2.37% and 2.76%, respectively.
Treasury yields and the U.S. dollar moved to the upside and the stock markets added to last week's strong gains, bolstered by the Senate's passing of its tax reform bill over the weekend. Now the reconciliation process looms as the House and Senate have to find some key areas of compromise before a tax reform bill can go to President Donald Trump's desk for a signature.

Schwab's Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Michael T. Townsend notes in his latest commentary,Tax Reform Bills Progress, but Many Hurdles Remain, negotiations between the House and Senate will likely be extremely challenging, given the differences between the two approaches. For investors, we still think it is too early to take any drastic action. If and when a tax bill passes, there will be time to review the details and amend your tax and financial plans accordingly. Regardless of the outcome of the tax bill, it’s always a good idea to meet with your tax and financial advisors before the end of the year to review your current financial situation and discuss your plans for the coming year.

Factory orders (chart) dipped 0.1% month-over-month (m/m) in October, better than the Bloomberg expectation of a 0.4% decline, and versus September's upwardly revised 1.7% gain. Stripping out the volatile transportation component, orders rose 0.8% and September's 0.7% gain was revised to a 1.1% increase. October durable goods orders—preliminarily reported last week to have dropped 1.2%—were favorably adjusted to a 0.8% decrease, and compared to forecasts of a revised 1.0% decline. Also, nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a gauge of business spending, were revised higher to a 0.3% decrease from the initially-reported 0.5% decline.

The highlight of the report was the upward revision to the gauge of business spending, which has risen for four-straight months, with an average month gain of 1.3% for the period. This adds credence to Schwab's Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders' view that an even sharper recovery could be in the cards for U.S. business capital spending in 2018, while tax reform—if we get it—would be an additional kicker in her article, Takin Care of Business: Several Important Kickers for a Strong Capex Cycle.

Today's release kicked off a busy economic calendar that will continue tomorrow with a look at the all-important services sector in the form of the ISM non-Manufacturing Index, with economists forecasting a slight decline in the reading for November to a level of 59.0 from October's 60.1, as well as Markit's final Services PMI Index for November, expected to post a reading of 54.7, in line with its preliminary report, but below the 55.3 registered the month prior, while the trade balance will round out the day's docket, with the deficit expected to widen to $47.1 billion during October from September's $43.5 billion.

Europe higher on U.S. tax reform, Brexit negotiations in focus, Asia mixed

The European equity markets rallied, with financials a noticeable gainer along with industrials. Bond yields in the region were mostly higher, while the euro declined versus the U.S. dollar on the weekend's tax reform bill passage by the Senate and upbeat U.S. business spending data, which bolstered global economic optimism. The British pound reversed to the downside on the greenback after the meeting between Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission President Juncker ended without reaching a deal on an Irish border issue. The meeting was highly expected to produce a deal and likely help Brexit talks end a deadlock. With volatility showing some signs of life last week, in his article, Schwab's Chief Global Investment Strategist Jeffrey Kleintop, CFA, tackles the question, Are Stocks too Expensive?, noting that although world stock market valuations are above average, similar valuations have produced double-digit gains over the following 12 months during the past 50 years. Jeff concludes that valuations support a globally diversified portfolio offering the best diversification benefits in 20 years.

Stocks in Asia finished mixed as the markets grapple with the weekend's tax reform bill passing in the U.S. Senate, along with flared-up uncertainty regarding what possible ramifications former U.S. NSA advisor Mike Flynn's guilty plea for lying to the FBI may have for the Trump administration. This news on Friday caused the U.S. stock markets to dip but they held onto solid weekly gains. Stocks in Japan, mainland China and Australia all lost ground, but securities traded in South Korea, Hong Kong and India saw modest gains. Although showing some signs of choppiness, the global stock markets remain nicely higher for the year that has been bolstered by the broadest economic growth in a decade. This is expected to continue in 2018 as discussed by Schwab's Jeffrey Kleintop, CFA, in his article, 5 Reasons Investors Should Give Thanks.

Services PMI readings from across the globe will dominate tomorrow's international economic calendar, with other reports of note to include retail sales from the U.K. and the Eurozone, new home sales from Australia, and industrial production from Spain. In central bank action, the Reserve Bank of Australia will meet, with no change to its benchmark interest rate expected.

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