Markets Mixed Amid Omnipresent Uncertainties…..

U.S. equities finished mixed, as enthusiasm over upbeat earnings reports from Dow members Home Depot and Walmart, as well as Kohl’s, was tempered by the dogged uncertainties that continue to plague sentiment. Elevated U.S. and China tensions, the deadlock on Capitol Hill regarding a next round of stimulus, as well global COVID-19 fears remain the key culprits. In other equity news, announced plans to add 3,500 new jobs and expand offices in six cities. On the economic front, housing construction activity came in higher than forecasts. Treasury yields dipped as bond prices nudged higher and the U.S. dollar continued its decline, while gold rebounded after last week’s drop and crude oil prices were little changed. Europe finished lower, while Asian securities were mixed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 67 points (0.2%) to 27,778, while the S&P 500 Index rose 8 points (0.2%) to 3,390, and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 81 points (0.7%) to 11,211. In moderate volume, 771 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 3.2 billion shares changed hands on the NASDAQ. WTI crude oil was unchanged at $42.89 per barrel and wholesale gasoline added $0.01 to $1.28 per gallon. Elsewhere, the Bloomberg gold spot price was up $19.03 to $2,004.33 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—lost 0.6% to 92.28.

Housing construction activity better than forecasts…..

Housing starts for July rose 22.6% month-over-month (m/m) to an annual pace of 1,496,000 units, well above the Bloomberg forecast of 1,245,000 units, and compared to June’s upwardly-revised pace of 1,220,000 units, from the initially-reported 1,186,000 units. Moreover, building permits, one of the leading indicators tracked by the Conference Board as it is a gauge of future construction, gained 18.8% m/m to an annual rate of 1,495,000, north of expectations of 1,325,000 units, and compared to June’s upwardly-revised 1,258,000 rate.

Treasuries were modestly higher, as the yield on the 2-year note was flat at 0.15%, while the yield on the 10-year note slid 2 basis points (bps) to 0.66%, and the yield on the 30-year bond declined 4 bps to 1.39%.

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