Stocks End Higher, but Unable to Avoid Weekly Losses…..

U.S. equities were able to end today’s session on a positive note, but the omnipresent uncertainties of the Delta variant, Fed tapering, and geopolitical issues put the major indexes in the red for the week. Information Technology and Communications Services sectors led the way, along with Utilities issues, with all sectors posting gains for the day. Treasuries finished nearly unchanged amid a recent flattening of the yield curve, and the U.S. dollar took a breather from its recent run to highs not seen since last fall. Meanwhile, gold saw a modest increase and crude oil prices added to a recent tumble. The economic calendar was empty today and the equity front was also relatively quiet, though Dow member Johnson & Johnson announced CEO Alex Gorsky will transition out of that role by January, and Ross Stores offered a Q3 warning. Europe finished mostly higher to trim a weekly decline, while markets in Asia lost ground.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 226 points (0.7%) to 35,120, the S&P 500 Index gained 36 points (0.8%) to 4,442, and the Nasdaq Composite increased 173 points (1.2%) to 14,715. In moderate volume, 848 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 3.8 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil moved $1.36 lower to $62.14 per barrel. Elsewhere, the gold spot price nudge $0.90 to the upside to $1,784.10 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—ticked 0.1% lower to 93.48. Markets were lower for the week, as the DJIA lost 1.1%, the S&P 500 fell 0.6%, and the Nasdaq Composite declined 0.7%.

Although showing some resiliency today, stocks registered a weekly decline as they have had to contend with a host of uncertainties, notably the festering Delta variant, Fed taper timing, and ramped-up geopolitical concerns. As such the markets were a bit defensive this week, with the Health Care, Utilities, Consumer Staples and Real Estate sectors outperforming, while cyclically-natured sectors—Energy, Materials and Industrials—saw some pressure.

Financials also declined this week amid the continued flattening of the Treasury yield curve, while the Consumer Discretionary sector was also among the worst performers amid some mixed responses to results from the heavyweights of the retail sector, which put the finishing touches on a robust earnings season, and this week’s softer-than-expected July retail sales report. This appeared to preserve concerns about a slowdown in consumer activity that flared-up last week with the severely disappointing preliminary University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index for August, which unexpectedly fell to the lowest level since 2011. The heavily-weighted growth sectors—Information Technology and Communications Services—were mixed on the week with today’s gains helping push the former into positive territory, while the latter was lower.

Treasuries gave up modest early gains and were little changed as the economic calendar was void of any major releases today. The yields on the 2-year note and the 30-year bond were flat at 0.22% and 1.87%, respectively, while the yield on the 10-year note rose 1 basis point to 1.26%. The U.S. dollar was modestly lower, pausing a noticeable weekly advance to approach highs not seen since last fall.

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