U.S. equities were flat on the day and U.S. Treasuries sold off in a bear steepener, in which long-term rates move up more than short-term rates. The higher yields strengthened the dollar versus most of its major peers. In a quiet day from the economic calendar, mortgage applications declined primarily on a large drop in the refinance index. FedEx was sharply lower after the shipping giant missed quarterly forecasts and offered a second warning for full-year earnings. General Mills exceeded the Street’s estimates. Global markets were mixed amid heightened Brexit concerns and the pound continued its slide relative to the dollar. Oil was slightly lower and gold was down in the face of higher global yields.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) shed 28 points (0.1%) to 28,239, the S&P 500 Index lost 1 point to 3,191 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4 points (0.1%) to 8,828. 856 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 2.6 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil was $0.02 lower at $60.85 per barrel and wholesale gasoline dropped $0.01 to $1.68 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price was $1.90 lower at $1,480.60 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was up 0.2% to 97.39
The MBA Mortgage Application Index fell 5.0% last week, following the prior week’s 3.8% increase. The decline came as 6.5% decrease in the Refinance Index met a 2.1% drop for the Purchase Index. The average 30-year mortgage rate remained at the prior month’s 3.98%.
Treasuries were lower, with the yield on the 2-year note up a basis point (bp) to1.63%, while the yield on the 10-year note gained 4 bps to 1.92% and the 30-year bond yield added 5 bps to reach 2.35%. Bond yields have modestly pared a rise as of late that came courtesy of a much stronger-than-expected November nonfarm payroll report and upbeat sentiment on the trade front amid a U.S.-China “phase one” agreement. However, some increased concerns about a disorderly U.K. Brexit have upped worries of a “hard” exit to keep yields rangebound.
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