U.S. stocks fluctuated between gains and losses as the benchmark S&P 500 Index settles into the narrowing trading range since before the Covid pandemic roiled global financial markets. The dollar strengthened while Treasury 10-year note yields edged higher.
The energy and materials sectors led declines in the S&P, which has almost doubled in value from the lows reached in March last year. Health care shares rose. The U.S. equity benchmark has swung an average 0.5% each day is August, poised for the calmest month since November 2019. Micron Technology led chipmakers lower after Morgan Stanley downgraded the shares because of concerns over the market for memory chips. Crude oil was little changed.
“We’re in this pretty tight range on the equities side,”said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank. “The biggest risk, I think right now, continues to be the delta variant and a secondary risk would be a surge in inflation.”
Treasuries were mostly little changed after applications for U.S. state unemployment benefits dropped for the third week in a row.
“This is yet another data point indicating continued labor market recovery,” Anu Gaggar, global investment strategist at Commonwealth Financial Network, said of Thursday’s jobless claim data.
Investors are continuing to evaluate the implications of a likely Federal Reserve tapering announcement in the months ahead, the spread of the delta virus variant and China’s clampdown. Global stocks are up about 90% since the pandemic nadir in March 2020, spurring questions about how much further they can climb. While Wednesday’s inflation numbers suggest the central bank might take a slower path toward normalization, Kansas City Fed President Esther George said it needs to move ahead with reducing monetary stimulus.
Elsewhere, most Asian markets fell after China released a five-year plan calling for greater business regulation as Beijing steps up scrutiny of insurance technology platforms.
These are the main moves in markets:
- The S&P 500 was little changed as of 12:09 p.m. New York time
- The Nasdaq 100 rose 0.2%
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2%
- The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.1%
- The MSCI World index was little changed
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed
- The euro was little changed at $1.1736
- The British pound fell 0.3% to $1.3832
- The Japanese yen was little changed at 110.37 per dollar
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries advanced three basis points to 1.36%
- Germany’s 10-year yield was little changed at -0.46%
- Britain’s 10-year yield advanced three basis points to 0.60%
- West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.2% to $69.40 a barrel
- Gold futures were little changed