Wall Street’s major domestic equity indexes rebounded on Wednesday, due to the latest economic data out of China, an easing of tensions in Hong Kong and British lawmakers’ approval of a law to delay Brexit, all provided relief to those concerned over global growth.
Lawmakers in Britain’s lower house of Parliament voted late in the day to approve legislation designed to prevent Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government from taking the country out of the European Union without a deal.
The equity markets continued to rise throughout the day in response to China’s services sector expanding at the fastest pace in three months during August, thereby providing a boost to the world’s second-largest economy, which has struggled to reverse a prolonged manufacturing sector slump.
Also, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam withdrew an extradition bill that had triggered months of often violent protests in the Chinese-ruled city.
Investors fled equities on Tuesday after data showing a contraction in factory activity in August and after a new round of tariffs from Washington and Beijing went into effect over the weekend.
John Williams, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, said the economy appeared to be in a good place and adding that he is ready to “act as appropriate” to help avoid a downturn.
The technology stock index provided the greatest aid to the S&P’s 11 major sectors with a 1.7% gain, while the healthcare index was the weakest sector with a 0.01% gain for the day.
Tyson Foods fell 7.8% after the company reduced its 2019 earnings forecast.
Approximately 6.16 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 6.91 billion share average over the past 20 trading days.
Beige Book Does Not Indicate a Recession
According to the Fed’s Beige Book, compiled by the Atlanta Fed from reports assembled from all 12 of the Fed’s regional banks through Aug. 23, and released Wednesday, the economy grew at a modest pace in recent weeks, with manufacturing buffeted by a global slowdown while consumer purchases gave mixed signals on the strength of household spending.
The ongoing U.S.-China trade war loomed prominently in the Fed’s latest compendium of anecdotes from companies around the country, with several of its districts reporting the conflict was weighing on business.
The report, released ahead of the Fed’s Sept. 17-18 policy meeting, suggested that businesses do not expect a recession soon.
“Although concerns regarding tariffs and trade policy uncertainty continued, the majority of businesses remained optimistic about the near-term outlook,” according to the Fed’s report.
The Fed indicated that growth in employment appeared to be “modest” in recent weeks, a pace that was “on par with the previous reporting period.” However, manufacturing activity was slightly weaker than during the previous period, the Fed said.
The report detailed a host of concerns by businesses about tariffs, including the prospect that uncertainty over the direction of trade policy could dampen investment.
In the Fed’s Boston district, which includes much of New England, “tariffs continued to be a minor but persistent pricing issue for manufacturers.”
America’s trade conflicts are also compounding problems faced by farmers, the report said.
“Agricultural conditions remained weak as a result of unfavorable weather conditions, low commodity prices, and trade-related uncertainties,” according to the report.
The Fed’s business contacts mostly reported ongoing growth in consumer spending, the main engine for economic growth, which has appeared strong in recent months despite the global slowdown.
But some parts of the country appeared to be less robust. In the St. Louis district, which covers a swath of the Midwest and South, “reports from general retailers and auto dealers indicate consumer activity has been mixed since our previous report.”
The Minneapolis district reported that consumer spending was flat, while the Atlanta district noted that consumer loan growth declined.