While well off the lows of the day, U.S. equities finished lower, paring yesterday’s solid advance, as investors weighed a ramp up in earnings season that continues to bring mostly positive results, disappointing housing data and the Fed’s minutes from its September meeting solidifying its belief to continue on its gradual rate-increase path. In earnings news, Netflix posted results far above expectations and United Continental’s were mixed, while Lam Research’s upbeat quarterly report and guidance was overshadowed by IBM’s revenue miss, pressuring technology issues. Treasury yields were higher following the Fed minutes and the U.S. dollar rose, while gold lost ground and crude oil prices fell on a much larger-than-expected rise in oil inventories.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 92 points (0.4%) to 25,707, the S&P 500 Index shed nearly a point to 2,809, and the NASDAQ Composite declined 3 points to 7,643. In moderate volume, 794 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.3 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ. WTI crude oil tumbled $2.17 to $69.75 per barrel and wholesale gasoline was $0.06 lower at $1.92 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price fell $1.53 to $1,223.42 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was 0.6% higher at 95.62.
Housing starts for September fell 5.3% month-over-month (m/m) to an annual pace of 1,201,000 units, below the Bloomberg forecast of a 1,210,000 unit rate. August starts were revised lower to an annual pace of 1,268,000. Construction on single-family units dipped m/m, while multi-family construction fell solidly in the Midwest and dropped in the South likely due to the impact of Hurricane Florence. Both figures remained higher y/y. Building permits, one of the leading indicators tracked by the Conference Board as it is a gauge of future construction, decreased 0.6% m/m to an annual rate of 1,241,000, versus expectations of a 1,275,000 pace, and compared to August’s upwardly-revised 1,249,000 rate. Authorizations for single-family structures were higher m/m and compared to last year, but multi-unit permits were down versus the prior month and last year.
The MBA Mortgage Application Index decreased 7.1%, following the prior week’s 1.7% dip. The decline came as a 9.0% drop in the Refinance Index was met with a 5.9% fall in the Purchase Index. The average 30-year mortgage rate rose 5 basis points (bps) to 5.10%.
Treasuries moved lower following the release of the Fed minutes, as the yield on the 2-year note rose 2 bps to 2.88%, while the yields on the 10-year note and 30-year bond gained 3 bps to 3.18% and 3.36%, respectively. The U.S. dollar also gained ground, aided somewhat by some cooler-than-expected U.K. data, which weighed on the British pound.
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