US Markets Stall as Markets Digest Trump's Intetntions
US stocks stayed flat or little changed today as the Trump rally continued to lose steam following news of President Trump's phonecalls with the leaders of Mexico, Germany and Australia, his latest comments on trade including the possible end of NAFTA, and concern over the policies his adminstration will pursue.
By Paolo Palazzi-Xirinachs
Thursday, February 2, 2017 - 00:00
The Dow Jones Industrial fell 5.76 points or 0.03%, to 19,885.18, the S&P 500 gained 1.28 points or 0.06%, to 2,280.83 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 6.45 points or 0.11%, to 5,636.20.
The S&P 500 Index zigzagged to a gain of less than two points for a second straight day amid corporate results and deal news. The dollar was little changed after slumping to its lowest level since November. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held below 2.50% for a fifth straight session after briefly rising above that level Wednesday. The pound fell after the Bank of England said there’s more slack in the economy than previously thought. Oil slipped after approaching a one-month high.
With central banks from Japan to England and the US signaling they’re in no rush to change policy direction as the world assesses the impact of American’s new leadership on global growth, investors continue to look for clues on economic strength. While signs point to increasing confidence that growth will accelerate, data have painted a murkier picture, increasing the significance of Friday’s jobs report as the White House leaves investors waiting for details on tax and spending initiatives.
Economists expect a 175K increase in US nonfarm payrolls for January, in line with the recent trend, when the Labor Department releases jobs data on Friday. With both hiring and unemployment likely to remain relatively stable, the focus on the jobs report will center on wage pressures.
Healthcare isn’t the only industry that’s been whipsawed by Trump’s sometimes improvised pronouncements in the past two weeks. Retailers were hit by the proposal to tax Mexican imports to pay for a border wall. Airlines declined amid the chaos created by his executive order on immigration. But healthcare, responsible for 17% of the US economy, is unique. The government spends more than $1 trillion a year on the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled and the Medicaid program for the poor. And the US plays a controlling role in the market, both in financing care and in setting rules for everything from how hospitals operate to which drugs can be sold.
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