[BRIEFING.COM] The S&P 500 declined 0.2% on Wednesday in a lackluster session that saw little buying conviction from investors. Shares of energy and financial companies contributed to the lower finish, while defensive-oriented sectors helped limit losses.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.2%, and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.4%. The Russell 2000 (+0.04%) finished just above its flat line.
High expectations for the Fed to signal for a rate cut in its policy meeting next week were bolstered by soft inflation data in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for May. Total CPI increased 0.1% as expected. The market also remained hopeful for a Trump-Xi meeting at the G-20 summit at the end of the month, although reports indicated there have been little preparations for a meeting.
These positive considerations continued to tame any serious selling interest and helped foster gains in six of the 11 S&P 500 sectors.
There was a bit of a defensive tilt to the session, though, evident by the increased demand for U.S. Treasuries and the outperformance of the defensive-oriented sectors. The S&P 500 utilities (+1.3%), health care (+0.5%), and real estate (+0.3%) sectors were among the day's best performers.
The S&P 500 energy sector (-1.4%) was Wednesday's worst-performing group, falling on the back of oil prices ($51.16, -$2.18, -4.1%) amid bearish inventory data. The financials sector (-1.0%) was undercut by lower Treasury yields and by shares of Wells Fargo (WFC 44.91, -1.35, -2.9%) after it warned net interest income for 2019 will be at the low end of prior guidance.
The 2-yr yield declined four basis points to 1.89%, and the 10-yr yield declined one basis point to 2.13%. The U.S. Dollar Index advanced 0.3% to 97.01.
The semiconductor space, meanwhile, was pressured by some negative commentary out of Evercore ISI. The firm expects weakness in the memory chip business to continue into year's end, pushing back a recovery to the second half of 2020. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index lost 2.3%.
Separately, shares of Facebook (FB 175.04, -3.06, -1.7%) were hit by more scrutiny of the company's privacy practices. The Wall Street Journal indicated sources that said Facebook uncovered emails suggesting CEO Mark Zuckerberg wasn't prioritizing privacy or complying with the FTC consent decree. Facebook denied any intentional wrongdoing from Mr. Zuckerberg.
Reviewing Wednesday's economic data, which included the Consumer Price Index for May, the weekly MBA Mortgage Applications Index, and the Treasury Budget for May:
- Total CPI increased 0.1%, as expected, and so did core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices (Briefing.com consensus +0.2%). The monthly changes left the yr/yr readings at 1.8% and 2.0%, respectively, versus 2.0% and 2.1% for the 12 months ending in April.
- The key takeaway from the report is that consumer inflation pressures remain muted, which in turn is going to reinforce the market's inflated expectations for the Fed to cut the target range for the fed funds rate sooner rather than later.
- The weekly MBA Mortgage Applications Index soared 26.8% amid a drop in mortgage rates.
- The Treasury Budget for may showed a deficit of $207.8 billion versus a deficit of $146.8 billion for the same period one year ago. The Treasury Budget is not seasonally adjusted, so the May deficit cannot be compared to the $160.3 billion surplus for April.
- The fiscal year-to-date deficit is $738.6 billion versus a deficit of $532.2 billion for the same period ago. The budget deficit over the last 12 months is $985.4 billion, versus $924.4 billion for the 12 months ending in April.
Looking ahead, investors will receive the weekly Initial and Continuing Claims report and Export and Import Prices for May on Thursday.
- Nasdaq Composite +17.4% YTD
- S&P 500 +14.8% YTD
- Russell 2000 +12.7% YTD
- Dow Jones Industrial Average +11.5% YTD