The major domestic equity indexes ended the trading day on Tuesday in negative territory as excitement over the likelihood of a tax code revamp was offset by concern over its effect on years of monetary policy stimulus and the future of interest rates.
The House initially passed the tax legislation in an afternoon vote, but the bill included provisions that did not comply with Senate rules. The Senate is expected to vote this evening on a revised version of the bill, with the offending provisions removed. If the Senate approves the bill, as is expected, the House will vote again on Wednesday.
Stocks added to losses after the vote, which followed weeks of market gains on optimism that tax cuts would raise earnings and stimulate the economy. However, some believe that many of those benefits are already reflected in share prices.
The S&P 500 has climbed about 5 percent since mid-November when the House passed its tax overhaul bill.
The bill, among other things, proposes lowering corporate tax rates to 21 percent from 35 percent, which investors are betting will boost profits as well as trigger share buybacks and higher dividend payouts.
The S&P 500 technology sector fell 0.5 percent, with tech stocks weighing the most on the major indexes.
Earlier in the day, stocks were pushed lower as Treasury yields rose on strong housing data. Domestic home construction hit a 13-month high in November.
Apple closed out the trading day down 1.1 percent after broker Instinet downgraded the stock to “neutral,” saying the supply-demand balance for the iPhone X suggested little space to raise sales estimates for the next quarter.
The consumer staples index’s 0.2 percent rise led gainers.
Altria rose 1.7 percent after an analyst upgrade pointed out that a lower tax rate would raise the tobacco company’s earnings number, along with shareholder payouts.
Wal-Mart closed out the day up 0.9 percent after Citigroup upgraded the stock to “buy” on expectations that the retailer’s shares will rise further in 2018.
Zimmer Biomet rose 6.1 percent, making it the S&P 500 index’s largest gainer, after the company appointed a full-time chief executive.
Approximately 6.6 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchange, a number that was below the 6.8 billion share daily average over the past 20 trading days.
Single Family Home Building at 10-Year High
Single-family homebuilding and permits reached 10-year highs in November. Hopefully the industry has managed to work past its supply in a hopeful sign for a housing market that has been hobbled by supply constraints.
Builders have struggled to meet robust demand for housing, which is being fueled by a labor market near full employment. Land and skilled labor have been in short supply, while lumber prices have accelerated upward.
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that single-family homebuilding, which accounts for the largest share of the housing market, rose 5.3 percent to a rate of 930,000 units. That was the highest level since September 2007.
Pointing to further gains, single-family home permits rose 1.4 percent to a pace of 862,000 units, a level not seen since August 2007. The increase in groundbreaking on single-family housing units suggests housing could contribute to gross domestic product in the fourth quarter.
Investment in residential construction has declined for two straight quarters, weighing on economic growth. A survey on Monday showed confidence among homebuilders soaring to near an 18-1/2-year high in December, amid optimism over buyer traffic and sales over the next six months.
Last month, single-family home construction in the densely-populated South was up 8.4 percent to the highest level since July 2007 as disruptions from recent hurricanes continued to fade and communities in the region replaced houses damaged by flooding.
Single-family starts in the West increased 11.4 percent to their highest level since July 2007. They were unchanged in the Northeast and fell 11.1 percent in the Midwest.
Overall housing starts increased 3.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.297 million units. While that was the highest level since October 2016, October’s sales pace was revised down to 1.256 million units from the previously reported 1.290 million units.
Overall building permits dropped 1.4 percent to a rate of 1.298 million units in November, pulled down by a 6.4 percent decline in permits for the construction of multi-family homes.
House Approves Tax Bill; Senate Next
The House approved the debt-financed tax legislation on Tuesday, sending the bill to the Senate, where lawmakers were due to take up the package later in the evening. The largest rewritel of the tax code in more than 30 years could be signed into law by the President as soon as Wednesday.
The House passed the bill by a vote of 227-203, overcoming united opposition from Democrats and 12 Republicans who voted against it. Passage was all but certain in the Republican-controlled Senate, as well.
The plan includes steep tax cuts for corporations and wealthy taxpayers, as well as temporary tax cuts for some individuals and families. It repeals a section of the Obamacare health system and allows oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, just two of many narrow changes added to the bill to secure sufficient to win its passage.
Middle-income households would see an average tax cut of $900 next year, while the wealthiest one percent of Americans would see an average cut of $51,000, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, a think tank in Washington.
Republicans insist the package will boost the economy and job growth. They also see the measure as key to retaining their majorities in the House and Senate in elections next November.
Democrats say the bill will widen the income gap between rich and poor Americans, while adding $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years to the mounting $20 trillion U.S. national debt.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called the bill a “Frankenstein monster” riddled with carve-outs and loopholes that falls far short of the Republican promise of simplifying the tax code. “This monster will come back to haunt them,” she said on the House floor.
The plan includes a steep tax cut for businesses and temporary tax cuts for individuals. Middle-income households would see an average tax cut of $900 next year, while the wealthiest 1 percent would see an average cut of $51,000, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.
Some 52 percent of adults oppose the tax plan, while 27 percent support it, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.