Markets Post Modest Losses Ahead of Flood of Data…..

U.S. equities finished out a lackluster session mostly lower and very near the flatline, as investors awaited a host of earnings and economic data out of the key retail sector. The October retail sales report will headline tomorrow’s docket, while earnings results from Dow members Walmart and Home Depot will also be in focus. Meanwhile, the economic week kicked off with a much stronger-than-expected New York manufacturing report for November. M&A news dominated the equity front, as CyrusOne agreed to be acquired by investment firm KKR and Global Infrastructure Partners for roughly $15.0 billion, and American Tower Corporation agreed to acquire CoreSite Realty Corporation about $10.1 billion. In other equity news, shares of Dow member Boeing jumped after a report that it was close to resuming deliveries of its troubled jet. Treasuries diverged, and the U.S. dollar traded to the upside, while crude oil prices finished little changed and gold lost ground. Europe finished higher in choppy trading, while markets in Asia were also mixed amid some economic data in the region.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 13 points to 36,087, the S&P 500 Index was flat at 4,683, and the Nasdaq Composite shed 7 points to 15,854. In moderate-to-light volume, 3.4 billion shares of NYSE-listed stocks were traded, and 4.9 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil inched $0.09 higher to $80.88 per barrel. Elsewhere, the gold spot price declined $2.80 to $1,865.70 per ounce, and the Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was 0.4% higher at 95.55.

The Empire Manufacturing Index, a measure of activity in the New York region, showed the index moved further into a level depicting expansion (a reading above zero) than anticipated. The index rose to 30.9 in November from 19.8 that was posted in October, and compared to the Bloomberg estimate of an improvement to 22.0. Growth in new orders and employment both accelerated, though the expansion in inventories slowed, while prices paid accelerated and continue to be severely elevated.

Tomorrow, the economic calendar will be headlined by October advance retail sales, projected to have increased 1.5% month-over-month (m/m) and sales ex-autos to have advanced 1.0% m/m. The Fed’s industrial production and capacity utilization report is also on tap, with production expected to have rebounded from September’s 1.3% m/m decline to a gain of 0.8%, and utilization to have nudged higher to 75.9% from the prior month’s 75.2%. The Import Price Index will put the finishing touches on the October inflation picture, with economists anticipating a 1.0% m/m rise, and September business inventories are estimated to have gained 0.6% m/m during September. Lastly, the NAHB Housing Market Index for this month will round out the docket, expected to show home builder sentiment remained at October’s 80 reading, with 50 the separating point between good and poor conditions.

Treasuries were mixed, as the yield on the 2-year note lost 1 basis point (bp) to 0.52%, while the yield on the 10-year note rose 5 bps to 1.63% and the 30-year bond rate gained 6 bps to 2.01%.

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