Financial Markets 09/29 16:38
NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street closed out its worst month and quarter of the
year with more losses on Friday.
The S&P 500 slipped 0.3% after a gain from the morning withered, and the
majority of stocks within the index sank. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell
158 points, or 0.5%, and the Nasdaq composite edged higher by 0.1%.
Solid gains for stocks early on faded as pressure built from within the bond
market. After easing earlier in the day on encouraging signals about inflation,
Treasury yields got back to rising as the day progressed.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury yield returned to 4.58%, where it was late
Thursday, after dipping to 4.52%. It's again near its highest level since 2007.
Treasurys are seen as some of the safest investments possible, and when they
pay higher yields, investors are less likely to pay high prices for stocks and
other riskier investments. That's a big reason why the S&P 500 dropped 4.9% in
September to drag what had been a big gain for the year down to 11.7%
Treasury yields have been climbing sharply as Wall Street accepts a new
normal where the Federal Reserve is likely to keep interest rates high for
longer. The Fed is trying to push still-high inflation down to its target, and
its main tool of high interest rates does that by trying to slow the economy
and hurting prices for investments.
The Fed's main interest rate is at its highest level since 2001, and the
central bank indicated last week it may cut interest rates next year by less
than it earlier expected.
Friday's economic data showed that not only was inflation a touch cooler
than expected in August, so was growth in spending by U.S. consumers. That can
be a positive for inflation because it means not as many dollars are pouring
into purchases. That in turn could give companies less encouragement to try to
raise prices further. But it may also dent what's been a big driver keeping the
U.S. economy out of a recession.
"It came to a boil during a hot summer, and the temperature is really
starting to come down," said Brian Jacobsen, chief economist at Annex Wealth
Management, of spending growth by U.S. consumers. "Higher energy prices,
student loan debt repayments and real disposable incomes that have been on a
declining trajectory since June doesn't bode well."
Oil prices have jumped to their highest level in more than a year, which is
pressuring the economy by raising fuel costs for everyone. A barrel of U.S.
crude sank 92 cents Friday to settle at $90.79, but it's still up sharply from
$70 in June. Brent crude, the international standard, also weakened.
The resumption of U.S. student-loan repayments, meanwhile, may funnel more
dollars away from the spending by consumers that has helped to keep the economy
Another, more immediate threat for the economy could hit soon as the U.S.
government nears another possible federal shutdown. Markets have broadly held
up rather well during past shutdowns, but a few crucial economic reports are
scheduled for the next couple of weeks.
The latest monthly update on the U.S. jobs market is due next week, with a
couple of important reports on inflation coming the following week.
Postponements of such reports could complicate things for the Fed, which has
insisted it will make upcoming decisions on interest rates based on what
incoming data say about the economy. The Fed's next meeting on rates ends on
On Wall Street, Nike jumped 6.7% after reporting better profit for the
latest quarter than analysts expected. Strength overseas helped it make up for
some declines in North America.
Blue Apron soared 134.5% after the meal kit company said it was being bought
by Wonder Group for $13 per share in cash in a deal valued at $103 million.
On the losing end of Wall Street were stocks of energy producers, hurt by
the slide in oil's price. Energy stocks in the S&P 500 fell 2% as a group, more
than double the loss of any of the other 10 sectors that make up the index.
Exxon Mobil fell 1.6%, and Schlumberger dropped 4.3%. Energy stocks, though,
remain the market's standout performers since the summer.
Shares of Ford and General Motors slipped after the United Auto Workers said
it will expand its limited strike to include another facility for each. Ford
fell 1.1%, and GM dipped 0.6%.
All told, the S&P 500 slipped 11.65 points to 4,288.05. The Dow dropped
158.84 to 33,507.50, and the Nasdaq added 18.05 to 13,219.32.
In stock markets abroad, indexes were modestly higher in Europe after
exchanges were closed across much of Asia.
AP Business Writers Matt Ott and Elaine Kurtenbach contributed.