Note to Readers: Due to my being out of the country this past week, there were no MarketView columns for that period. We are now back on schedule.
Except for the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the major equity indexes chalked up some slight gains on Monday, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq snapping a four-day losing streak, although a decline in the shares of Apple kept gains in check.
The Dow fell, with Travelers down 1.9 percent. Hurricane Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major hurricane through Thursday, the National Hurricane Center warned of the Category 4 storm bearing down on the U.S. east coast.
UnitedHealth shares also weighed on the Dow. The stock fell 3.2 percent after a Citigroup downgrade.
Apple fell 1.3 percent, weighing on the three major indexes.
Trump said on Friday he was ready to levy additional taxes on practically all Chinese imports, threatening duties on $267 billion of goods over and above planned tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese products.
China said it will respond if Washington takes any new steps on trade. Also, Apple last week said a “wide range” of its products would be hit, although it did not mention the iPhone.
At the same time, investors are optimistic about U.S. economic data and forecasts for earnings.
Investors await the release of consumer price index data this week.
Republicans in the House of Representatives plan to unveil tax cuts this week, intended to augment Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul that added $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit through permanent tax cuts for U.S. companies.
Shares of United rose 5.0 percent after the company said it was buying privately held equipment rental firm BlueLine Rental.
Among other gainers, Nike rose 2.2 percent after a report said the footwear maker’s Labor Day sales rose, easing concerns about the hit to demand after the Colin Kaepernick advertisement.
Tesla gained 8.5 percent after brokerages Baird and Bernstein said the electric carmaker was on track to be profitable and cash-flow positive in the second half of the year.
Alibaba fell 3.7 percent after the company said Jack Ma will step down as chairman in one year, passing on the reins to trusted lieutenant Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang.
Approximately 5.6 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 6.1 billion share daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Gains in Crude Oil Tempered by Inventory Concerns
The prices for crude oil were mixed on Monday, pulling back from an early rally after data suggested our domestic crude inventories might increase, weighing on the market.
According to the weekly data from Bloomberg, oil inventories are rising, contradicting an earlier report from energy information provider Genscape, which forecast declining inventories. The data put a damper on a bullish mood that had driven trading early in the session.
West Texas Intermediate crude futures settled down 21 cents at $67.54 a barrel. Brent crude oil rose 54 cents to $77.37 a barrel after touching a session high of $77.92 a barrel.
Earlier in the session, crude had strengthened as growth of U.S. drilling braked and investors anticipated lower supply once our new sanctions against Iran’s crude exports kick in from November.
Domestic drillers closed two oil rigs last week, reducing the total count to 860, Baker Hughes said on Friday.
Growth of the number of rigs drilling for oil in the United States has stalled since May, reflecting increases in well productivity but also bottlenecks and infrastructure constraints.
Outside the United States, Iranian crude oil exports are declining ahead of a November deadline for the implementation of new U.S. sanctions. Although many importers of Iranian oil have said they oppose sanctions, few seem prepared to defy Washington.
While Washington is exerting pressure on countries to cut imports from Iran, it is also urging other producers to raise output to hold down prices.
The administration is trying to encourage the world’s largest crude oil producers and exporters to keep output up. It is likely that OPEC will adjust output to stabilize prices.
Investors are concerned about the impact on oil demand of the trade dispute between the United States and other large economies, as well as the weakness of emerging markets.