U.S. equities finished mixed in lukewarm trading in their return to action following the long Easter holiday weekend, with volume across the globe very light as Europe and several other markets remained closed. News was fairly light, with a larger-than-expected decline in existing home sales joining a lackluster day on the earnings front, headlined by a mostly upbeat report from Kimberly-Clark. Treasury yields were higher, while gold and the U.S. dollar were lower. Crude oil prices rallied after the U.S. announced that it will end sanction waivers for countries that import oil from Iran.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 48 points (0.2%) to 26,511, the S&P 500 Index was up 3 points (0.1%) to 2,908, and the NASDAQ Composite increased 17 points (0.2%) to 8,015. In light volume, 730 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 1.7 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ. WTI crude oil jumped $1.48 to $65.55 per barrel and wholesale gasoline was up $0.06 at $2.13 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price inched $0.37 lower to $1,275.15 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was 0.2% lower at 97.29.
Existing-home sales in March were down 4.9% month-over-month (m/m) to an annual rate of 5.2 million units, compared to the Bloomberg expectation of a decline to 5.3 million units from February’s downwardly-revised 5.5 million rate. Sales of single-family homes were down m/m and below year-ago levels, along with purchases of condominiums and co-ops. The median existing-home price was up 3.8% y/y to $259,400. Unsold inventory came in at a 3.9-months pace at the current sales rate, up from 3.6 months a year ago. Sales declined in all regions m/m, led by the Midwest, and all were lower y/y.
The data follows Friday’s housing starts and building permits report that was released on Friday when the markets were closed for the Good Friday holiday, which showed starts dipped 0.3% m/m in March to an annual rate of 1,139,000 units and permits decreased 1.7% to a 1,269,000 rate. Both figures missed expectations calling for increases.
Treasuries were mostly lower, as the yield on the 2-year note ticked 1 basis point (basis point) higher to 2.39%, while the yields on the 10-year note and the 30-year bond rate rose 3 bps to 2.59% and 2.98%, respectively.
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