U.S. equities finished in the green, continuing to grind higher after suffering the worst week for 2019, as stronger-than-expected reads on durable goods orders and construction spending lifted sentiment, and wholesale price inflation came in a bit cooler than expected. Investors seemed to shrug off the uncertainty surrounding BREXIT, with some key votes continuing later today and tomorrow after Prime Minister May’s exit plan decree was handily rejected yesterday. Treasury yields and gold were higher, and the U.S. dollar was lower, while crude oil prices gained ground amid an unexpected drop in crude oil inventories.
`The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) rose 148 points (0.6%) to 25,703, the S&P 500 Index increased 20 points (0.7%) to 2,811, and the NASDAQ Composite gained 52 points (0.7%) to 7,643. In heavy volume, 960 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.3 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ. WTI crude oil rose $1.39 to $58.26 per barrel and wholesale gasoline was up $0.04 to $1.86 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price gained $9.58 to $1,311.16 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was 0.4% lower at 96.55.
January preliminary durable goods orders rose 0.4% month-over-month (m/m), compared to the Bloomberg estimate of a 0.4% decrease and December’s upwardly-revised 1.3% increase. Ex-transportation, orders dipped 0.1% m/m, versus forecasts of a 0.1% rise and compared to December’s favorably-revised 0.3% gain. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, considered a proxy for business spending, grew 0.8%, compared to projections of a 0.2% gain, and the prior month’s figure was revised upward to a 0.9% decrease from the initially reported 1.0% drop.
The Producer Price Index (PPI) showed prices at the wholesale level in February ticked 0.1% higher m/m, compared to forecasts of a 0.2% gain, and following January’s unrevised 0.1% dip. The core rate, which excludes food and energy, was also up 0.1% m/m, versus expectations of a 0.2% gain, and after January’s unadjusted 0.3% increase. Y/Y, the headline rate was 1.9% higher, matching projections and compared to January’s unrevised 2.0% rise. The core PPI rose 2.5% y/y last month, below estimates to match January’s unrevised 2.6% increase.
The MBA Mortgage Application Index moved 2.3% higher last week, following the prior week’s 2.5% decline. The increase came as a 0.2% dip in the Refinance Index was more than offset by a 4.3% jump for the Purchase Index. The average 30-year mortgage rate decreased 3 basis points (bps) to 4.64%.
Construction spending rose 1.3% m/m in January, versus projections of a 0.5% increase, and following December’s unfavorably-revised 0.8% decline. Residential spending rose 2.4% m/m, though non-residential spending dipped 0.3%.
Treasuries were mostly lower, as the yield on the 2-year note was flat at 2.45%, the yield on the 10-year note lost 1 basis point o 2.61%, and the 30-year bond rate moved 2 bps lower to 3.01%. The U.S. dollar dipped to extend a recent pullback, with the British pound gaining solid ground amid a series of BREXIT votes and as the markets grapple with mixed economic data amid the backdrop of the Fed being patient with monetary policy.
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