Stocks Quiet Ahead of Yellen’s Speech
U.S. stocks closed mildly lower and European equities snapped a winning streak as caution prevailed ahead of tomorrow’s speech from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen.
Some upbeat domestic data included better-than-expected reads on weekly jobless claims and durable goods orders, while a preliminary report on services sector activity unexpectedly declined but remained in expansion territory.
Treasuries and gold were lower, the U.S. dollar was little changed and crude oil prices were higher.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 33 points (0.2%) to 18,448
The S&P 500 Index lost 3 points (0.1%) to 2,173
The Nasdaq Composite decreased 5 points (0.1%) to 5,212
In moderately light volume, 705 million shares were traded on the NYSE and 1.5 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq
WTI crude oil gained $0.56 to $47.33 per barrel, wholesale gasoline added $0.01 to $1.42 per gallon
The Bloomberg gold spot price declined $1.64 to $1,322.64 per ounce
The Dollar Index—a comparison of the U.S. dollar to six major world currencies—was nearly unchanged at 94.76
Earnings and Company News…
HP Inc reported fiscal 3Q earnings-per-share (EPS) ex-items of $0.48, above the $0.44 FactSet estimate, as revenues declined 4.0% year-over-year (y/y) to $11.9 billion, versus the projected $11.5 billion. HPQ issued softer-than-expected 4Q EPS guidance, while lowering the high end of its full-year profit outlook. Shares pared early losses.
Tiffany & Co posted 2Q profits of $0.84 per share, north of the forecasted $0.72, with revenues declining 6.0% y/y to $932 million, compared to the expected $933 million. Q2 same-store sales decreased 8.0% y/y, compared to the expected 7.8% drop. TIF maintained its full-year EPS outlook and shares rallied.
PVH Corp announced 2Q EPS ex-items of $1.47, well above the projected $1.28, as revenues increased 4.0% y/y to $1.9 billion, roughly in line with forecasts. The parent of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger issued mixed Q3 guidance, while raising its full-year profit forecast and reaffirming its revenue outlook. Shares gave up early gains and finished lower.
Dollar General Corp reported Q2 earnings of $1.08, one penny below forecasts, with revenues growing 5.8% y/y to $5.4 billion, just shy of the expected $5.5 billion. Q2 same-store sales increased 0.7% y/y, versus the estimated 2.7% gain. DG confirmed its full-year EPS outlook, while announcing an additional $1.0 billion in share repurchases. DG closed sharply lower.
Dollar Tree Inc posted Q2 EPS of $0.72, one cent south of expectations, as revenues rose 66% y/y to $5.0 billion—reflecting results from its acquisition of Family Dollar—compared to the projected $5.1 billion. 2Q same-store sales rose 1.2% y/y, compared to the 2.4% gain that was anticipated. DLTR issued stronger-than-expected 3Q earnings guidance, though it raised and lowered its full-year EPS and revenue forecasts, respectively. Shares were lower.
Durable goods orders easily top forecasts, jobless claims unexpectedly dip
July preliminary durable goods orders jumped 4.4% month-over-month, compared to Bloomberg’s estimate of a 3.4% gain and June’s downwardly revised 4.2% drop. Ex-transportation, orders gained 1.5% m/m, easily topping the 0.4% forecasted increase, and June’s favorably revised 0.3% decline. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, considered a proxy for business spending, increased 1.6%, well above projections of a 0.2% increase, and following the upwardly revised 0.5% rise in the month prior. Gains were widespread, notably surges in the volatile aircraft and parts and a sharp jump in computers and related products, though motor vehicles were flat and communications declined.
The business spending component of the report has posted back-to-back monthly gains, and a continuation of this trend could give the U.S. economy a needed boost to escape this prolonged period of stagnant growth. As noted, consumer confidence has firmed, with the labor market continuing to improve, housing is looking good, and wages are finally starting to rise. Additionally, we’ve seen signs that consumers may be more comfortable taking on debt. However, it will be difficult to get the U.S. economy rolling without an improvement in productivity, which is undoubtedly being constrained by ongoing tepid capital spending.
Weekly initial jobless claims dipped 1,000 to 261,000 last week, versus estimates of a rise to 265,000, with the prior week’s figure unrevised at 262,000. The four-week moving average declined 1,250 to 264,000, while continuing claims fell 30,000 to 2,145,000, south of the estimated level of 2,155,000.
Treasuries were lower, with the yields on the 2-year note and the 30-year bond ticking 2 basis points (bps) higher to 0.79% and 2.27%, respectively, while the yield on the 10-year note increased 1 bp to 1.58%.
The preliminary Markit U.S. Services PMI Index for August unexpectedly declined to 50.9 from July’s final reading of 51.4, compared to forecasts of a modest rise to 51.8, though a reading above 50 indicates expansion. The release is independent and differs from the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) report, as it has less historic value and its index components are weighted differently.
Tomorrow, the U.S. economic calendar will close out the week with the first revision (of two) of Q2 GDP, projected to be adjusted slightly lower to a 1.1% quarter-over-quarter annualized rate of growth, after Q1′s 0.8% expansion. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index will follow, expected to be revised modestly higher to 90.8 from 90.4, and an improvement from July’s 90.0 figure, while wholesale inventories will close out the day, projected to tick 0.1% higher m/m in July following June’s 0.3% gain. The highlight of the morning will be the 10:00 a.m. ET speech from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen at the Central Bank’s annual policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Europe and Asia lower as global markets eye Yellen’s speech
European equities finished lower, declining for the first time in four days, with basic materials stocks lower on the continued pressure on the mining sector and as the markets digested some mixed economic data in the region, headlined by a disappointing read on August German business sentiment. Global caution persisted ahead of tomorrow’s key speech from U.S. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Yellen at the Central Bank’s annual policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Healthcare issues came under pressure amid concerns about a potential pricing crackdown following comments from U.S. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. In other economic news, Spain’s Q2 GDP growth was unexpectedly revised higher and U.K. August retail sales figures rebounded. The U.K. report added to recent data to suggest the U.K. economy is seeing a limited impact from the late-June vote to leave the European Union, known as Brexit.
The euro was higher and the British pound lost ground on the U.S. dollar, while bond yields in the region finished mostly higher.
Stocks in Asia finished lower in subdued volume as the global markets remained cautious ahead of tomorrow’s key speech from U.S. Fed Chair Janet Yellen, while the recent drop in crude oil prices and dampened sentiment in the mining sector weighed on commodity-related issues. Japanese equities declined despite some weakness in the yen, while basic materials led Australian securities lower. Stocks in India fell amid some choppy trading on the expiration of monthly derivatives contracts and South Korean listings finished flat. Equities trading in mainland China fell and those in Hong Kong were little changed as liquidity concerns resurfaced and reports that the government may act to cool speculation in the financial and real estate markets fostered some uneasiness.
Tomorrow, the international economic docket will deliver consumer price inflation for Japan, consumer confidence from Germany, preliminary 2Q GDP from France and business investment, the Index of Services and preliminary 2Q GDP from the U.K.