Stocks Lose Steam Late to Close Mixed…..

U.S. stocks limped to the finish line to close mixed after earlier session gains were wiped out. Choppiness persisted in the markets as investors continued to pour over contagion concerns out of China related to default uncertainty of the world’s most indebted property developer, Evergrande. The cautious tone was further amplified as market participants closely eyed the Fed, which began its two-day monetary policy meeting, and as a decision on raising the debt ceiling in the U.S. remained at a stalemate. Economic news was relatively subdued, as August housing construction activity came in above expectations. Meanwhile, in equity news, ConocoPhillips agreed to acquire Royal Dutch Shell’s Permian business for $9.5 billion, while Lennar Corporation posted mixed quarterly results, and Dow member Disney hinted that near-term subscription growth for its streaming service, Disney+, might be choppy. Treasuries were mixed but little changed after yesterday’s rise amid the global skittishness, while the U.S. dollar inched lower. Gold and crude oil prices rose. Asia finished mixed, as Hong Kong rebounded and Japan fell after yesterday’s holiday, while Europe recovered after yesterday’s decisive draw-down.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 51 points (0.2%) to 33,920, the S&P 500 Index decreased 4 points (0.1%) to 4,354, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 33 points (0.2%) to 14,746. In moderate volume, 907 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 4.0 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil advanced $0.35 to $70.49 per barrel. Elsewhere, the gold spot price rose $14.40 to $1,778.80 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—nudged 0.1% lower at 93.17.

Housing starts for August rose 3.9% month-over-month (m/m) to an annual pace of 1,615,000 units, above the Bloomberg consensus forecast of 1,550,000 units, and compared to July’s upwardly-revised pace of 1,554,000 units. Building permits, one of the leading indicators tracked by the Conference Board as it is a gauge of future construction, gained 6.0% m/m at an annual rate of 1,728,000, north of expectations calling for 1,600,000 units, and compared to the downwardly-revised 1,630,000 unit pace in July. The stronger-than-expected read on housing construction activity came amid a noticeable m/m rise in permits and starts for multi-unit structures, while for single-unit homes, permits nudged higher and starts fell.

Treasuries were mixed following some demand yesterday amid the market skittishness, as the yield on the 2-year note was little changed at 0.21%, while the yields on the 10-year note and 30-year bond rose 1 basis point to 1.32% and 1.85%, respectively.

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