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US stocks fluctuated between gains and losses as the S&P 500 benchmark traded in the narrow trading range since before the Covid pandemic rocked global financial markets. The dollar strengthened, while yields on Treasury bills rose.
The energy and materials sectors led to declines in the S&P, which has almost doubled in value compared to the lows reached in March last year. Health actions increased. The U.S. equities benchmark has averaged 0.5% daily in August, forecast for the quietest month since November 2019. Micron Technology caused chip makers to drop after Morgan Stanley downgraded shares due to concerns about the memory chip market. Crude changed little.
“We’re in that pretty limited range when it comes to stocks,” said Chris Gaffney, president of global markets at TIAA Bank. “I think right now the biggest risk is still the delta variant and a secondary risk would be an increase in inflation.”
The Treasury changed almost shortly after U.S. state unemployment benefits fell for the third week in a row.
“This is another data point that indicates continued labor market recovery,” Anu Gaggar, a global investment strategist at the Commonwealth Financial Network, said on Thursday’s unemployment claims data.
Investors continue to assess the implications of a likely Federal Reserve reduction announcement in the coming months, the spread of the virus delta variant, and China’s reduction. World stocks have risen about 90% since the pandemic’s nadir in March 2020, prompting questions about how much they can go up. While Wednesday’s inflation figures suggest the central bank could take a slower path toward normalization, Kansas City Fed Chairman Esther George said she needs to keep moving forward with the reduction in ‘monetary stimulus.
Elsewhere, most Asian markets fell after China launched a five-year plan calling for greater business regulation as Beijing intensifies its review of insurance technology platforms.
These are the main movements in the markets:
- The S&P 500 changed little from 12:09 pm 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 changed little
- Bloomberg’s Spot Dollar Index changed little
- The euro changed little, to $ 1.1736
- The British pound fell 0.3% to $ 1.3832
- The Japanese yen traded slightly, at 110.37 per dollar
- 10-year Treasury yield advanced three basis points to 1.36%
- Germany’s ten-year yield varied little, with -0.46%
- The ten-year yield in the UK advanced three basis points to 0.60%
- West Texas crude oil rose 0.2% to $ 69.40 a barrel
- Gold futures did not change much
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