U.S. equities finished with modest losses in today’s session, as the potential of a U.S.-China “phase one” trade agreement continued to be the focus, while some mixed economic data also contributed to a lack of conviction. Leading Indicators dipped for a third-straight month and jobless claims were unchanged, remaining at historically low levels, but regional manufacturing growth jumped and existing home sales rose for the third month in four. Investors also perused more earnings results from the retail sector that were mixed, as well as Dow member Intel’s reaffirmation of its Q4 guidance. Treasury yields were higher, along with crude oil prices, while gold was lower and the U.S. dollar gained modest ground.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost 55 points (0.2%) to 27,766, the S&P 500 Index declined 5 points (0.2%) to 3,104, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 21 points (0.2%) to 8,506. In moderate volume, 826 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.0 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil rose $1.57 to $58.58 per barrel and wholesale gasoline gained $0.04 to $1.70 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price was $6.95 lower at $1,464.66 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—ticked 0.1% higher to 98.00.
The Conference Board’s Index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI) for October dipped 0.1% month-over-month (m/m) matching the Bloomberg projection, and compared to September’s downwardly-revised 0.2% decline. This was the third-straight weekly decline as a positive contribution from building permits was more than offset by negative reads for ISM new orders and average workweek. Consumer orders, capital goods orders, jobless claims, stock prices, credit, the yield curve and consumer expectations components were little changed.
Existing-home sales rose 1.9% m/m in October to an annual rate of 5.46 million units, compared to expectations of a rise to 5.49 million units from September’s downwardly-revised 5.36 million rate. Sales of single-family homes were down m/m but up versus year-ago levels, while purchases of condominiums and co-ops were roughly flat m/m and below year ago levels. The median existing-home price rose 6.2% from a year ago to $270,900, marking the 92st straight month of y/y gains. Unsold inventory came in at a 3.9-months pace at the current sales rate, down from 4.3 months a year ago. Sales increased for the third month in four as activity rose m/m in the Midwest and South m/m, but declined in the Northeast and in the West. Sales were higher y/y in all four regions. National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “Historically-low interest rates, continuing job expansion, higher weekly earnings and low mortgage rates are undoubtedly contributing to these higher numbers.”
Weekly initial jobless claims were unchanged week-over-week at 227,000, versus the Bloomberg estimate of 218,000, with the prior week’s figure being revised higher by 2,000. The four-week moving average rose by 3,500 to 221,000, while continuing claims increased by 3,000 to 1,695,000, north of estimates of 1,683,000.
The Philly Fed Manufacturing Index in November jumped to 10.4, from the 5.6 posted the month prior, versus expectations of a rise to 6.0, moving further into expansion territory (a reading above zero).
Treasuries were lower, as the yields on the 2-year and 10-year notes, along with the 30-year bond, were up 4 basis points at 1.61%, 1.77% and 2.23%, respectively.
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