U.S. stocks have overcome early pressure and are higher, with Dow member Walmart’s upbeat earnings results lifting consumer-related sectors following last week’s much softer-than-expected December retail sales report, while homebuilder sentiment improved more than expected. The global markets appear to be treading with some caution as U.S.-China trade talks resume this week. Treasury yields are dipping and the U.S. dollar is seeing some pressure, though tomorrow’s release of the minutes from the Fed’s January meeting looms. Crude oil prices are mixed and gold is gaining ground. Europe finished mostly lower following earnings from HSBC.
At 12:54 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is ticking 0.1% higher, the S&P 500 Index is gaining 0.2%, and the NASDAQ Composite is up 0.3%. WTI crude oil is advancing $0.38 to $56.36 per barrel, Brent crude oil is trading $0.29 lower at $66.21 per barrel, and wholesale gasoline is off $0.01 to $1.57 per gallon. The Bloomberg gold spot price is advancing $13.14 to $1,340.03 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—is falling 0.5% to 96.43.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Housing Market Index showed homebuilder sentiment this month ascended to 62 from January’s unrevised 58 level, compared to the Bloomberg expectation of a rise to 59. A level of 50 separates good and poor conditions. The NAHB noted that builder confidence levels moved up in tandem with growing consumer confidence and falling interest rates. The NAHB added that in the aftermath of the fall slowdown, many builders are reporting positive expectations for the spring selling season.
Treasuries are higher, with the yields on the 2-year and 10-year notes decreasing 2 basis points (bps) to 2.50% and 2.64%, respectively, while the 30-year bond rate is dipping 1 basis point to 2.99%. The U.S. dollar is retreating after a recent strengthening that has garnered global market attention.
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