March 3, 2021

Stocks & Bonds: Indexes End the Day Up, but Down for the Month

Capping a period characterized by wild swings of hundreds of points, all three major indexes finished the month lower, despite rising for the day.

On Wednesday, shares shifted between gains and declines, running from flat to more than 1 percent, in a market weighed down by news that the Justice Department would seek to block ATT’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

Shares shot up after the opening, but the ATT news dragged down the telecommunications sector. Then the three main indexes lost steam after a Federal Reserve official said that policy adjustments were not justified now.

In the last half hour, a bounce sent the Dow Jones industrial average above its starting point for 2011, but there was still not enough momentum to finish the month higher.

The Dow was up 53.58 points, or 0.46 percent, to 11,613.53 at the close, just above its 2011 start of 11,577.51. It was down more than 4 percent for the month. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index was up 5.97 points, or 0.49 percent, to 1,218.89, but down more than 5 percent for the month.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 3.35 points, or 0.13 percent, to 2,579.46. It closed down more than 6 percent for August.

ATT was the second-most actively traded stock in the telecommunications sector, behind Sprint. It fell 3.85 percent, to $28.48. Its rival Sprint Nextel was up nearly 6 percent to $3.76.

August was punctuated by volatility in the broader markets, as choppy economic data renewed discussions about whether the economy was headed for another recession. Concerns about euro zone debt, fiscal uncertainty in the United States and the potential for further economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve also affected market sentiment.

Those issues persisted this week when the Fed released minutes from its Aug. 9 meeting, where its policy makers considered changing the size or composition of the Fed’s balance sheet or reducing the interest rate paid on banks’ excess reserve balances.

Fed policy makers have agreed to consider other options at their next meeting in September. Some analysts said the Fed might need more information before deciding on further stimulus.

On Wednesday, Dennis P. Lockhart, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, appeared to tamp down the prospect.

“We may find, as economic circumstances evolve, that policy adjustments are required,” Mr. Lockhart said in speech to the Chamber of Commerce in Lafayette, La. “In more adverse scenarios, further policy accommodation might be called for. But as of today, I am comfortable with the current stance of policy, especially considering the tensions policy must navigate between the short and long term and between recovery and the need for longer-term structural adjustments.”

The Treasury’s benchmark 10-year note fell 17/32 to 99 1/32, pushing the yield to 2.23 percent, up from 2.18 percent late Tuesday.

Mark T. Lamkin, the chief executive officer of Lamkin Wealth Management, said the late-day swoon in shares could be attributed to short-term technical profit-taking, before the release of the national jobs report for August on Friday. It could also be a reaction to Mr. Lockhart’s remarks, he said.

Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 2.4 percent, and Germany’s DAX gained 2.5 percent. In Paris, the CAC 40 rose 3.1 percent. Asian markets were broadly higher on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, new data on factory orders and jobs set up a rise in shares that carried over from markets in Asia and Europe.

The Commerce Department showed that factory orders for July rose 2.4 percent, the largest increase since March. Demand for automobiles and commercial airplanes propelled the orders.

A report on employment from ADP Employer Services showed new jobs on private payrolls totaled 91,000 for August, below forecasts.

Those reports were made public before the release Friday of one of the most closely watched indicators, the Labor Department’s national report on the job situation. Analysts were forecasting a gain of 70,000 in new nonfarm payroll jobs for August, compared with 117,000 the previous month, while the unemployment rate of 9.1 percent was not expected to change, according to a survey by Bloomberg News.

“We are still not seeing job losses, which is what you would see in a recession,” said Anthony G. Valeri, a senior vice president and market strategist for LPL Financial.

Goldman Sachs economists said that the ADP report, which is used to help estimate the outcome of the national report, could mean lower forecasts for Friday’s numbers.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=9017821925f27179688c6b506c049c9a

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