The major domestic equity indexes were lower on Wednesday, breaking a four-session streak of gains after Washington’s threat to impose tariffs on an additional $200 billion worth of Chinese goods fanned trade war fears, while a sharp drop in oil prices hit energy shares.
China responded to Trump’s threats by accusing the United States of bullying and warned that it would hit back. As a result, companies such as Boeing, 3M and Caterpillar, which have been among the hardest hit by the recent trade dispute, were among the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s worst performers.
Materials, down 1.7 percent, was another big negative influence on the market, with Freeport-McMoRan down 3.9 percent as copper prices hit their lowest level in about a year.
Hopefully some of the trade war worries will slip into the background as attention is focused on second-quarter earnings during the coming weeks. Results from JPMorgan Chase and other big banks are due out Friday.
Analysts are forecasting S&P 500 companies’ earnings grew about 21 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Also pressuring the market Wednesday, the S&P 500 energy index fell 2.2 percent, leading sector declines. Domestic crude oil futures settled down 5 percent on the trade dispute escalation and as expectations of growing supplies increased on news that Libya would reopen ports.
Chip manufacturers, which largely depend on China for their revenue, fell, with the Philadelphia semiconductor index down 2.6 percent.
The market’s drop was not as steep as what was seen in late March and early April when the escalating trade rhetoric between China and the United States led to the S&P falling more than 2 percent on four occasions.
The market slide may have been contained in part by speculation the Trump administration could change its mind by the end of August, when the tariffs are due to come into effect.
The utilities sector was the only one in positive territory, with a 0.9 percent gain.
Twenty-First Century Fox fell 4 percent after the media company raised its offer for Britain’s Sky, holding off rival bidder Comcast for now. Comcast shares were up 1.3 percent.
Approximately 6.0 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity. Exchanges, a number lower than the 6.9 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Producer Price Index Continues to Climb Upward
The Labor Department reported on Wednesday morning that its producer price index (PPI) increased slightly more than expected in June amid gains in the cost of services and motor vehicles, leading to its largest annual increase in 6-1/2 years.
The index climbed 0.3 percent last month also lifted by increases in gasoline prices. The PPI rose 0.5 percent in May. In the 12 months through June, the PPI advanced 3.4 percent, the largest gain since November 2011. Producer prices increased 3.1 percent year-on-year in May.
A key gauge of underlying producer price pressures that excludes food, energy and trade services rose 0.3 percent last month. The so-called core PPI edged up 0.1 percent in May. In the 12 months through June, the core PPI rose 2.7 percent after increasing 2.6 percent in May.
Inflation is gradually rising against the backdrop of a labor market that is viewed as being near or at full employment.
The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, hit the U.S. central bank’s 2 percent target in May for the first time in six years.
In June, the cost of services increased 0.4 percent after climbing 0.3 percent in May. A 21.8 percent jump in the index for fuels and lubricants retailing accounted for about 40 percent of the rise in the cost of services last month.
The cost of healthcare services rose 0.2 percent as a 1.0 percent surge in prices for hospital outpatient care offset slight declines in the cost of doctor visits and hospital inpatient care. Healthcare prices rose 0.1 percent in May. Those costs feed into the core PCE price index.
Prices for goods edged up 0.1 percent after surging 1.0 percent in May. They were last month restrained by a 1.1 percent drop in food prices. Wholesale gasoline prices rose 0.5 percent after jumping 9.8 percent in May.
Excluding foods and energy, goods prices gained 0.3 percent, rising by the same margin for a fourth consecutive month. Motor vehicle prices increased 0.4 percent last month.