U.S. equities finished mixed, as the increased optimism surrounding upcoming U.S.-China trade talks ran up against festering global growth concerns to put investors in a cautious mood. U.S. small business optimism and job openings dipped, while Chinese wholesale price inflation fell and industrial production figures out of Italy and France disappointed. Treasury yields were higher, and the U.S. dollar gained modest ground, while crude oil prices were mixed in choppy trading and gold continued to pare a recent rally. On the equity front, Ford Motor Company’s credit rating was downgraded to junk status by Moody’s, and HD Supply Holdings lowered its guidance.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) rose 74 points (0.3%) to 26,909, the S&P 500 Index was nearly a point higher at 2,979 and the NASDAQ Composite declined 3 points to 8,084. In moderately-heavy volume, 938 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.3 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ WTI crude oil moved $0.45 higher to $57.40 per barrel and wholesale gasoline was up $0.01 at $1.58 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price declined $10.49 to $1,488.64 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was 0.1% higher at 98.39.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index for August dipped to 103.1 from July’s unrevised 104.7 level, and versus the Bloomberg expectation of a decrease to 103.5. NFIB President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Juanita Duggan noted, “In spite of the success we continue to see on Main Street, the manic predictions of recession are having a psychological effect and creating uncertainty for small business owners throughout the country,” adding that “small business owners continue to invest, grow, and hire at historically high levels, and we see no indication of a coming recession.”
The Labor Department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), a measure of unmet demand for labor, dipped to 7.22 million jobs available to be filled in July from June’s downwardly-adjusted 7.25 million figure, below forecasts of 7.33 million. The hiring rate ticked higher to 3.9% from June’s 3.8% pace, and the separation rate rose to 3.8% from 3.6%.
Treasuries were lower, as the yields on the 2-year and 10-year notes jumped 10 basis points (bps) to 1.67% and 1.72%, respectively, while the 30-year bond rate was 11 basis points (bps) higher at 2.20%. For a look at the volatility in the fixed income markets,
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