The major domestic equity indexes were slightly lower on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 retreating a bit from a record, as weakness in the energy and financial sectors outweighed gains in technology shares.
Oil prices fell to keep U.S. crude below the $50 a barrel mark on concerns output cuts by the world’s big exporters may not be sufficient to lessen a global glut and signs of resurgent output in Libya.
The energy sector’s 1.31 percent decline made it the worst performer among the major S&P 500 sectors. Exxon fell 0.6 percent.
Financial stocks, down 0.8 percent, also supplied some downward pressure. JPMorgan closed down 1.7 percent and Bank of America fell 1.4 percent, making them the two largest drags on the S&P 500.
Consumer spending recorded its largest increase in four months during April and the monthly inflation statistics rebounded, pointing to firming domestic demand that could allow the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next month.
Robert Kaplan, President of the Dallas Fed, told CNBC that while he was concerned about the recent economic data, he expected two more rate hikes in 2017.
Fed Governor Lael Brainard said a hike is probably coming soon, though the central bank may want to delay if inflation remains soft.
Traders currently see an 86.6-percent chance of a quarter-point rate hike by the Fed at its June meeting, according to Thomson Reuters data.
The technology sector rose 0.31 percent, primarily because of gains by Apple and Microsoft, both up 0.6 percent.
Amazon was up 0.1 percent at $996.70, after briefly crossing the $1,000 mark. Alphabet’s Class A shares were close behind, hitting a record of $997.62 before ending the session up 0.3 percent at $996.17.
Telecoms rose 1.4 percent, after Moffett Nathanson upgraded the sector to “neutral” from “underweight,” citing a lack of negative near-term catalysts.
CardConnect’s shares closed up 10.3 percent to $15.05 after First Data agreed to buy the payment processor for $750 million. First Data ended the day up 1.1 percent.
Approximately 5.68 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, a number that was below the 6.69 billion share daily average over the last 20 sessions.
Consumer Spending Up Sharply
Consumer spending recorded its largest increase in four months during April and monthly inflation rebounded, pointing to firming domestic demand that will likely allow the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates next month.
The Commerce Department indicated on Tuesday morning that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of all domestic economic activity, increased 0.4 percent last month after an upwardly revised 0.3 percent gain in March. Households spent more on both goods and services last month.
April’s increase was the largest since last December and could ease concerns about second-quarter economic growth after weak reports on core capital goods orders, the goods trade deficit and inventory investment in April. Consumer spending was previously reported to have been unchanged in March.
Consumer spending grew at its slowest pace in more than seven years during the first quarter, helping to restrict gross domestic product growth to a 1.2 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year. GDP growth estimates for the second quarter range between a rate of 2 percent and 3 percent.
Minutes of the Fed’s May 2-3 policy meeting, which were published last week, showed that while policymakers agreed they should hold off hiking rates until there was evidence the growth slowdown was transitory, “most participants” believed “it would soon be appropriate” to raise borrowing costs.
The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index rebounded 0.2 percent in April, reversing March’s 0.2 percent drop. In the 12 months through April, the PCE price index increased 1.7 percent after rising 1.9 percent in March.
Excluding food and energy, the so-called core PCE price index also bounced back 0.2 percent after dipping 0.1 percent in March. In the 12 months through April, the core PCE price index increased 1.5 percent after rising 1.6 percent in March.
The core PCE is the Fed’s preferred inflation measure. The central bank has a 2 percent target for core PCE.
However, rising inflation is cutting into both consumer spending and income growth. When adjusted for inflation, so-called real consumer spending rose 0.2 percent last month after advancing 0.5 percent in March.
While personal income rose 0.4 percent last month, as wages jumped 0.7 percent, income at the disposal of households after accounting for inflation advanced 0.2 percent. Real disposable income increased 0.4 percent in March.