The major domestic equity indexes closed out the trading day relatively flat on Monday, as increased expectations of stimulus from central banks around the world were offset by losses in technology and healthcare shares.
There appeared to be a pull back from buying after the market posted solid increases last week. Microsoft was the day’s largest drag on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
The S&P 500 financial index was among the day’s best-performing groups, rising 1.5%, with the banking index gaining 3.2%, along with Treasury yields up on rising bets of an interest rate cut by the Fed at its September meeting.
Cementing those expectations, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said late last week the central bank would “act as appropriate” to sustain economic expansion, a phrase that financial markets have read as a sign of an impending rate cut.
This week, the European Central Bank is expected to introduce new stimulus measures at its meeting on Thursday.
In healthcare, Amgen fell 2.6% over questions regarding data on the company’s lung cancer drug. The S&P 500 healthcare index was down 0.9%. The S&P 500 technology index fell 0.7%.
Among gainers, energy stocks were up along with oil prices.
AT&T chalked up a gain of 1.5% after shareholder Elliott Management Corp disclosed a $3.2 billion stake in the company and pushed for changes.
Boeing fell 1.2% after it suspended load testing of its new widebody 777X aircraft over the weekend due to a cargo door failing in a ground stress test.
Approximately 7.42 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 6.77 billion share average over the past 20 trading days.
Inflation Expectations Fall
Federal Reserve officials worried about sliding inflation expectations won’t take much comfort in readings from the New York Fed’s latest monthly survey of U.S. households, which fell to multi-year lows in August.
Expected inflation one year ahead dropped to 2.4% last month, marking the lowest level in the survey’s six-year history, according to the median survey response. Expected inflation three years ahead, a slightly longer-term measure designed to look through short-term influences, slipped to 2.5%, the lowest since May 2017, from 2.6% the month before.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and his colleagues at the U.S. central bank are keeping a close eye on inflation expectations because they believe such views to be an important driver of actual price pressures.
Fed officials are widely expected to deliver another rate cut when they conclude their Sept. 17-18 meeting.
Their preferred measure of consumer price inflation was 1.4% in July and has mostly undershot their 2% target throughout this economic expansion. Survey-based measures of inflation expectations have generally declined in recent years as actual inflation has failed to pick up.
New York Fed President John Williams addressed the trend in a Sept. 4 speech, calling it a “key area of his attention.”
“On its own, inflation somewhat below our longer-run goal would not be such a big deal, especially with our economy strong,” Williams said. “But the broader context is important. Ongoing disinflationary pressures from abroad, and the risk that inflation expectations in the U.S. may have drifted down after many years of inflation running below 2%, form an important part of this picture.”
The New York Fed survey respondents also put the probability that the stock market would be higher a year from now at just 38% on average, the lowest since October 2016.