The U.S. equity markets closed out the week with solid losses, as global growth concerns, on the heels of disappointing European economic data, and trade worries pressured sentiment. Treasury yields were also markedly lower amid mixed domestic economic data, with a better-than-expected rise in existing home sales being countered by manufacturing and service data that missed expectations. Dow member Boeing continued to suffer following more negative headlines surrounding its 737 Max jet, and Dow component Nike came under pressure after it warned of a sales slowdown. Gold and the U.S. dollar were higher and crude oil prices were lower.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) tumbled 459 points (1.8%) to 25,503, the S&P 500 Index lost 54 points (1.9%) to 2,801, and the NASDAQ Composite plunged 196 points (2.5%) to 7,643. In heavy volume, 1.1 billion shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.5 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ. WTI crude oil fell $0.98 to $59.04 per barrel and wholesale gasoline was flat at $1.89 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price rose $3.64 to $1,313.00 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—gained 0.1% to 96.61. Markets were lower on the week, as the DJIA declined 1.3%, the S&P 500 Index was down 0.8%, and the NASDAQ Composite descended 0.6%.
The preliminary Markit U.S. Manufacturing PMI Index showed that growth decelerated, declining to 52.5 in March, from February’s 53.0 figure, and versus Bloomberg estimates calling for a rise to 53.5. In addition, the preliminary Markit U.S. Services PMI Index showed growth was slower than expected for the key U.S. sector this month, falling to 54.8 from February’s 56.0 figure, versus expectations to nudge lower to 55.5. Readings above 50 for both indexes denote expansion.
Existing-home sales in February jumped 11.8% m/m to an annual rate of 5.51 million units, compared to expectations of a rise to 5.10 million units and verses January’s downwardly-revised 4.93 million rate. Sales of single-family homes were up m/m and were 1.4% below year-ago levels, while purchases of condominiums and co-ops were unchanged m/m but were down 5.0% y/y. The median existing-home price was up 3.6% y/y to $251,400. Unsold inventory came in at a 3.5-months pace at the current sales rate, up from 3.4 months a year ago. Sales rose in all regions except the Northeast, which was flat. The South and West regions were below year ago levels, while the Northeast was up y/y and the Midwest was roughly flat.
Wholesale inventories rose 1.2% m/m during January, well above expectation for a 0.1% gain, while December’s figure was revised to a 1.1% m/m increase.
Treasuries were higher, as the yields on the 2-year note and the 30-year bond decreased 9 basis point (bps) to 2.31% and 2.87%, respectively, while the yield on the 10-year note was 10 bps lower at 2.44%.
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