U.S. stocks traded above and below the unchanged mark before ultimately finishing with gains as President Trump delivered some details on the recently announced and highly debated tariffs. The President signed tariffs of 25% on foreign steel and 10% on foreign aluminum, but also noted that the administration retained the ability to be “flexible” on these levels and that certain allies could seek exemptions. He also noted that Canada and Mexico would be exempt for the time being. Earlier in the day, the European Central Bank kept its policy stance unchanged and included a hawkish change to its statement. Treasuries and the U.S. dollar were higher and gold and crude oil prices were lower. In M&A action, Cigna agreed to acquire Express Scripts in a transaction valued at approximately $67 billion.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) gained 94 points (0.4%) to 24,895, the S&P 500 Index advanced 12 points (0.4%) to 2,739, and the NASDAQ Composite increased 31 points (0.4%) to 7,428. In moderately heavy volume, 757 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.2 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ. WTI crude oil declined $1.03 to $60.12 per barrel and wholesale gasoline shed $0.03 to $1.89 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price decreased $3.53 to $1,322.04 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was nearly 0.6% higher at 90.14.

Weekly initial jobless claims rose by 21,000 to 231,000, versus the Bloomberg expectation calling for an increase to 220,000, with the prior week’s figure being unrevised at 210,000. The four-week moving average grew by 2,000 to 222,500, while continuing claims fell by 64,000 to 1,870,000, south of estimates of 1,920,000.

Tomorrow, the economic week will culminate with more employment data in the form of the February nonfarm payroll report, projected to show job growth of 205,000 after January’s 200,000 gain, and private sector jobs rose 203,000 after the prior month’s 196,000 gain. The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 4.0% from 4.1%. However, the wage component of the report will likely garner the most scrutiny, given last month’s fastest y/y wage growth since 2009 that fostered a flare-up in inflation concerns and contributed to rising expectations of tighter monetary policy. Average weekly earnings are projected to rise 0.2% month-over-month (m/m) and be up 2.8% y/y.

Treasuries traded higher, with the yield on the 2-year note nearly unchanged at 2.25%, while the yields on the 10-year note and the 30-year bond declined 3 bps to 2.86% and 3.12%, respectively.

Bond yields and the U.S. dollar remain choppy, though the former has seen a rally and the latter has had trouble escaping a downtrend, while stocks have been volatile. The markets continue to grapple with recently flared-up Fed rate hike uncertainty, global trade concerns, the resignation of President Donald Trump’s top economic advisor Gary Cohn, and today’s monetary policy decision by the European Central Bank.

Schwab Center for Financial Research – Market Analysis Group

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