Summary

The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were relatively flat again on Monday as gains were offset by a fall in technology stocks, which pushed the Nasdaq lower as investors turned to more defensive sectors. The slow-growing, high-dividend S&P utilities and telecommunications were the best performers among the 11 S&P sectors.

Technology sector was the weakest sector, with a 0.6 percent decline. The sector been under pressure recently due to stretched valuations. A drop in Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet weighed on the S&P 500, as well as on the Nasdaq. The utilities sector was the S&P’s best performer, with a 0.8 percent rise, while the four-company telecommunications services sector index was next with a 0.6 percent gain.

The S&P energy ended 0.2 percent lower as gains in oil prices were limited by rising crude supply in the United States and other countries. A recent drop in oil prices has spurred concerns about low inflation, which remains below the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target rate.

The Fed raised rates this month for the second time this year and has indicated it could raise them again. But futures imply only a 50 percent chance of another rate hike by December.

The S&P financial index rose 0.5 percent after New York Fed President William Dudley and San Francisco Fed President John Williams generally brushed off weak data and stuck by their plans to keep hiking rates.

Monday’s data showed new orders for U.S.-made capital goods unexpectedly fell in May, with non-defense orders excluding aircraft – a closely watched proxy for business spending plans – dropping 0.2 percent.

Shares in Hertz Global Holdings were up 13.5 percent at $10.83 after a report that Apple is leasing a small fleet of cars from the rental company to test self-driving technology. Apple shares ended 0.3 percent lower.

Approximately 6.42 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 7.2 billion share average for the last 20 sessions.

Capital Goods Orders Fall

New orders for capital goods fell beyond expectations on May, as did shipments, suggesting a loss of momentum in the manufacturing sector halfway through the second quarter.

According to a report released by the Commerce Department on Monday morning, non-defense capital goods orders, excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, fell 0.2 percent, making it the largest decline since last December.

These so-called core capital goods orders were revised up to show an increase of 0.2 percent for April. They were previously reported to have risen 0.1 percent.

Shipments of core capital goods fell 0.2 percent during May, after rising 0.1 percent in April. Core capital goods shipments are used to calculate equipment spending in the government’s gross domestic product measurement.

The report added to growing worries that an acceleration in economic growth in the second quarter may not be as robust as expected. Recent data on retail sales, manufacturing production and inflation have given pause and housing data has been mixed.

The weakness comes despite a continuing strong job market. The unemployment rate fell to a 16-year low of 4.3 percent in May.

Overall orders for durable goods, items ranging from toasters to aircraft that are meant to last three years or longer, fell 1.1 percent in May, the largest decline since last November. They fell 0.9 percent during April.

Last month, orders for machinery rose 0.6 percent while shipments decreased 0.3 percent. Civilian aircraft orders declined 11.7 percent and bookings for defense aircraft and parts plummeted 30.8 percent. Orders for motor vehicles and parts increased 1.2 percent.

Crude Rebounds – Somewhat

The prices of crude oil were a bit higher on Monday in quiet trading that featured bargain hunting after prices slid last week and hit seven-month lows. However, gains were limited by rising crude supply in the United States and other countries.

Brent crude futures were up 25 cents, or half a percent, at $45.79, still a near 20 percent drop in the first half of the year. Domestic crude futures were up 35 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $43.36 a barrel.

In the week to June 20, investors in crude futures and options increased their short positions, or bets against rising prices.

OPEC and its partners have been trying to reduce a global crude glut with production cuts. OPEC states and 11 other exporters agreed in May to extend cuts of 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) until March.

However, Nigeria and Libya, OPEC members exempt from the cuts, have hiked output. Iran was allowed a small increase to recover market share lost under Western sanctions. It said its production has surpassed 3.8 million bpd and is expected to reach 4 million bpd by March.

Domestic shale oil output is up around 10 percent since last year. The number of U.S. oil rigs in operation has hit its highest in over three years.

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