U.S. stocks post weekly losses amid trade concerns, Fed minutes

U.S. stocks post weekly losses amid trade concerns, Fed minutes

NEW YORK (Rahnuma):  U.S. stocks notched weekly declines as investors grew concerned about persisting global trade spat while digesting the newly-released meeting minutes from the Federal Reserve.

In the week ending May 24, the Dow fell 0.69 percent, the S&P 500 dropped 1.17 percent and the Nasdaq pulled back 2.29 percent.

The equities experienced drastic fluctuations over the week, featuring a huge rout on Thursday as tech and energy shares lagged.

All the three major indexes opened sharply lower on Thursday, with the Dow plunged more than 400 points at its lows before closing the day down 286.14 points.

Wall Street worried that the longer-than-anticipated global trade tensions are threatening economic growth.

The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) registered 50.6 in May, down from 52.6 in April, marking the lowest level since September 2009, data from the research firm showed on Thursday. The reading missed market estimates.

No good news from trade coupled with lackluster U.S. manufacturing indicators was among others that triggered the selling, according to John Monaco, an experienced trader at New York Stock Exchange.

“The technology and energy sectors are being sold the most. Again, I attribute this to the fact that traders are selling to gain profits from the large run up in those sectors,” he said.

The technology group booked a 2.79-percent weekly decline and the energy sank 3.42 percent for the week.

Chipmaker stocks were under pressure this week, driven by the recent U.S. move to add Huawei to a trade blacklist, which would make it harder for U.S. companies to do business with the Chinese telecom giant.

VanEck Vectors Semiconductor ETF (SMH), which tracks the overall performances of major U.S.-listed companies in the semiconductor industry, reported a 5.69-percent weekly drop.

Wall Street also digested the meeting minutes released by the U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday. Some investors think the U.S. inflation might fall further this year and anticipate the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates to spur growth.

“The minutes from the April 30-May 1 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting reveal the Fed is determined to keep rates unchanged this year, even if it means making excuses for low inflation and/or disappointing growth. Indeed, if anything, some members considered the possibility the FOMC might have to hike rates this year, but not one outright suggested a cut, despite lower-than-targeted inflation,” Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, said in a note.

On the economic front, new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods decreased 2.1 percent in April to 248.4 billion dollars, following a 1.7-percent March increase, the Department of Commerce reported Friday. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 2.4-percent April decline in new orders.

U.S. initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, stood at 211,000 in the week ending May 18, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

U.S. existing-home sales declined for the second consecutive month in April, but at a much slower pace, said the National Association of Realtors on Tuesday.

Total existing-home sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, fell 0.4 percent from March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.19 million in April. The reading missed market estimates.

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