Health Bill Vote is Delayed, Wall Street Lower as a Result
US stocks ended an up-and-down session slightly lower, while Treasuries slipped with the dollar as House Republicans postponed voting on the AHCA health-care bill, raising speculation the Trump administration’s pro-growth policies will face hurdles in Congress - especially with fiscal conservatives.
By Paolo Palazzi-Xirinachs
Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 00:00
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.72 points, or 0.02 percent, to 20,656.58, the S&P 500 lost 2.49 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,345.96 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.95 points, or 0.07 percent, to 5,817.69.
The S&P 500 Index fell to the lowest level of the session after Republican House leadership said there would be no vote Thursday, before paring some of the drop into the close. The US dollar swung between gains and losses throughout the session, while the yield on 10-year Treasury notes edged higher to 2.41 percent.
The reflation trades sparked by Trump’s election have faltered in March as the administration remains far from delivering on pro-growth policies that boosted stocks and the dollar. The White House wrangled with House Republicans throughout the day to secure enough votes to pass the first major piece of legislation under the 45th president.
New US single-family home sales jumped to a seven-month high in February, suggesting the housing market recovery was gaining momentum despite higher prices and rising mortgage rates. Generally, new home sales make the economy grow. This growth should put some backbone in investment spending and make the current economic expansion more sustainable.
The Commerce Department said new home sales increased 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 592,000 units last month, the highest level since July 2016. Sales have now more than recouped the sharp drop suffered in December.
Other data on Thursday showed an unexpected increase in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week. The claims data covered the period during which the government surveyed employers for March's nonfarm payrolls report. The four-week average of claims fell 7,750 between the February and March survey weeks, suggesting another month of strong job gains. Job growth has averaged 209,000 per month over the past three months and the unemployment rate is at 4.7 percent, close to the nine-year low of 4.6 percent hit last November. Tightening labor market conditions and rising inflation enabled the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates last week.
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