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S&P 500 Futures Retreat from Record Highs on Political Turmoil

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May 16th, 2017

U.S. stocks struggled for direction Monday, as political turmoil in Washington raised doubts about President Trump’s ability to deliver on plans to boost the economy.

The S&P 500 Index came off an intraday record to settle down 0.1% at 2,400.67. Eight of 11 sectors contributed to the decline.

Energy stocks tumbled as oil prices ran into resistance. A barrel of U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled below $49.00 a barrel in New York., down from an earlier high of $49.38.

Shares of healthcare companies and utilities providers also fell finished firmly lower.

A measure of implied volatility over the next 30 days rose slightly on Tuesday, but nevertheless pointed to ongoing complacency in the market. The CBOE VIX is off 24-year lows, but continues to trade at around half of its historical average.

Fresh controversy has engulfed Donald Trump this week after the president defended his decision to share terrorism intelligence with Russian officials. News of intelligence sharing followed a string of negative events that have dogged the Republican administration since entering office nearly four months ago.

Since firing FBI director James Comey, Trump’s approval rating has plummeted to 38%, which is only slightly above the 35% seen on March 28.

Turmoil surrounding the GOP adds to existing doubts about the administration’s ability to kick-start the reform process. An apparent slowdown in domestic growth has added greater urgency to stimulate the economy. Last month, the Commerce Department said gross domestic product (GDP) expanded a mere 0.7% in the first quarter, the slowest in three years.

Economic data came in mixed on Tuesday. Government economists reported unexpected declines in housing starts and building permits for the month of April. A later report from the Federal Reserve showed industrial production expanded in April at the fastest clip in three years.

 - Sam Bourgi Economic Calendar.

See Also: S&P 500 News Blog Dow Jones Industrial Average

 

Stocks in U.S. Fluctuate as S&P 500 Heads for Its Best December Since 1991

December 31st, 2010

U.S. stocks swung between gains and losses, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index heading for its second straight annual advance and its best December since 1991.

Hewlett-Packard Co. and Microsoft Corp. fell at least 0.7 percent to lead losses in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. CVS Caremark Corp. gained 0.1 percent after the drugstore operator agreed to buy a unit of Universal American Financial Corp. Borders Group Inc. slumped 19 percent after suspending payments to some publishers. Alcoa Inc. rose 1.6 percent for the biggest gain in the Dow.

The S&P 500 fell less than 0.1 percent to 1,257.69 as of 11:21 a.m. in New York. The index has climbed 13 percent this year and 6.5 percent this month. The Dow slipped 1.66 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 11,568.05 today, and is up 11 percent this year. The 2010 advance follows a 23 percent rise in the S&P 500 in 2009, making it the biggest two-year advance since the Internet-bubble rally of 1998 and 1999.

“This year has been like a long road trip. It wasn’t always pleasant while on the way, but it was good once we reached the destination,” said Lawrence Creatura, a Rochester, New York-based fund manager at Federated Investors Inc., which oversees about $340 billion. “Today we have skeleton crews at investment houses and trading shops so it’s likely going to be a very light day.”

Earnings, Fed Moves

The S&P 500 advanced 23 percent from its July low through yesterday as companies reported better-than-estimated earnings and the Federal Reserve pledged to buy up to an extra $600 billion in Treasuries to stimulate the economy. Its rally to a two-year high has pushed its valuation to 15.7 times reported profits, the most since June.

This year’s increase for the benchmark index for U.S. equities means the gauge has risen for seven of the past eight years. The index’s 86 percent surge from a 12-year low on March 9, 2009, is the biggest for a comparable time period since 1955, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P.

The S&P 500’s advance sent the gauge above 1,251.70 on Dec. 21 for the first time since Sept. 12, 2008, the last trading day before Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed the world’s biggest bankruptcy and prompted a 46 percent drop for the benchmark gauge through March 2009. The December rally for the benchmark index comes after it lost 0.2 percent in November and posted a combined gain of 13 percent in September and October, the biggest increase during those months since 1998.

‘Optimistic’ on 2011

“I’m quite optimistic about the performance of equity markets in the year ahead,” said Andrew Popper, chief investment officer at SG Hambros Bank Ltd. in London. “We have the conditions in place for seeing this rally continuing. The economy is recovering at a global level.”

The benchmark gauge for American equities will rise 9.2 percent from yesterday’s close of 1,257.88 to 1,374 in 2011, bringing the increase since 2008 to 52 percent, according to the average of 11 strategists in a Bloomberg News survey.

Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest computer maker, retreated 0.9 percent to $41.89 and Microsoft fell 0.7 percent to $27.67 as technology companies led declines in the S&P 500, dropping 0.4 percent as a group.

CVS Caremark gained 0.1 percent to $35.04. The drugstore operator said it will acquire the Medicare Part D business of Universal American Financial for about $1.25 billion. Universal American surged 37 percent to $20.

Clearwire Corp., a company creating a nationwide high-speed wireless network using WiMax technology, slumped 1.3 percent to $5.15 after it said Chairman Craig McCaw will step down today.

Borders slumped 19 percent to 93 cents. The bookstore chain has suspended payments to some publishers as refinancing talks continue, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing Publishers Marketplace.

Alcoa, the largest U.S. aluminum producer, rose 1.6 percent to $15.44.

Imax Corp. rallied 11 percent to $29.79. Sony Corp. may be preparing to bid more than $40 a share for the company that designs and makes giant-screen movie theaters, the Daily Mail reported, citing London traders. Walt Disney Co. may also be interested in bidding for Imax, the newspaper said.

 - Nikolaj Gammeltoft in New York at Bloomberg.