Rudd’s MarketView for Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summary

Wall Street gained on Tuesday, with the S&P 500, Dow Industrial Average and the Russell 2000 setting record closing highs, as technology stocks bounced back and investors positioned for an expected Federal Reserve interest rate hike.

The S&P 500 technology sector rose 0.9 percent, recovering from its largest two-day decline in nearly a year that also weighed on the broader market. Big tech names, such as Microsoft and Facebook, pushed the S&P 500 higher.

Tech has led the benchmark S&P 500’s 9-percent rally this year, and its recent swoon has sparked speculation that investors may be rotating into other swaths of the market that have lagged in 2017, such as financials and energy.

The financial sector gained 0.4 percent on Tuesday, while energy gained 0.7 percent. Materials were the top gaining sector, rising 1.3 percent.

Traders are overwhelmingly expecting an interest rate increase when the Fed concludes its two-day meeting on Wednesday. The central bank is scheduled to release its decision at 2 p.m. on Wednesday with a news conference to follow from Fed Chair Janet Yellen.

Financials, which tend to benefit when rates are rising, were higher after the Treasury Department announced a plan to upend the country’s financial regulatory framework, which would grant many items on Wall Street’s wish list.

In corporate news, Cheesecake Factory (CAKE.O) shares fell 9.9 percent after the restaurant chain warned of a decline in comparable store sales.

Approximately 6.4 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, a number that was below with the 6.8 billion share daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Producer Price Index Unchanged

Producer prices were unchanged in May as energy costs recorded their biggest decline in more than a year, suggesting inflation pressures were easing after rising at the start of the year.

Signs of abating inflation came as Federal Reserve officials prepared to gather for a two-day policy meeting on Tuesday. The U.S. central bank is expected to raise interest rates at the end of the meeting on Wednesday, but weakening inflation could limit the scope for further monetary policy tightening this year.

The Labor Department said last month’s unchanged reading in its producer price index for final demand followed a 0.5 percent increase during April. In the 12 months through May the PPI increased 2.4 percent, retreating from April’s 2.5 percent surge, which was the biggest yearly increase since February 2012.

Last month’s inflation readings were broadly in line with economists’ expectations.

The Fed has a 2 percent inflation target and tracks a measure that is currently at 1.5 percent. The central bank raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by 25 basis points in March.

The dollar’s fading rally and rising oil prices boosted producer prices at the start of the year. However, oil prices have retreated in recent weeks, putting a lid on producer inflation.

Energy prices fell 3.0 percent last month, the biggest drop since February 2016, after rising 0.8 percent in April. The cost of gasoline declined 11.2 percent in May, which was also the largest drop since February of last year.

Because of weak energy prices, the cost of goods fell 0.5 percent, reversing April’s 0.5 percent increase. At the same time, prices for services rose 0.3 percent last month, driven by a 1.1 percent surge in the index for final demand trade services, which measures changes in margins received by wholesalers and retailers. Services rose 0.4 percent in April.

Half of the increase in services last month was driven by margins for fuels and lubricants retailing, which rose 16.1 percent. There were also increases in margins for apparel retailing, machinery and equipment wholesaling and automobiles and parts retailing.

However, the cost of renting a guest room fell a record 5.2 percent. Food prices fell 0.2 percent as prices of fresh fruits and melons recorded their biggest drop since June 2010. But the cost of beef and veal increased by the most since July 2008.

Food prices surged 0.9 percent in April.

A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services fell 0.1 percent last month, the first decline in a year. The so-called core PPI rose 0.7 percent in April.

The core PPI increased 2.1 percent in the 12 months through May after a similar gain in April.

The cost of healthcare services fell 0.1 percent last month after being unchanged in April. The cost of inpatient healthcare services dropped 0.2 percent last month after a similar decrease in April.

Outpatient care prices rose 0.2 percent, while physician care edged up 0.1 percent. Those costs feed into the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, the core personal consumption expenditures price index.

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