EDITOR’S NOTE: Sam Collins will return on Feb. 21.
On Thursday, after five consecutive days of new all-time highs, the S&P 500 finally took a break and pulled back a gentle 0.09%, settling in at 2,347.22.
Even with oil prices rising 0.6% to $53.44 per barrel, the Oil & Gas sector provided the largest bearish drag on the S&P 500, falling 1.41%. Range Resources Corp. (NYSE:RRC), down 5.33%, Southwestern Energy Company (NYSE:SWN), down 4.6%, and Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK), down 3.80%, dragged the sector lower.
The Consumer Services sector was the second worst performer, falling 0.37%. Food companies Mondelez International Inc (NASDAQ:MDLZ), down 4.78%, The Kraft Heinz Co (NASDAQ:KHC), down 4.19%, and General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS), down 2.61%, were the biggest losers in the sector.
These losses were largely, but not completely, offset by gains in the utilities and telecommunications sectors, rising 0.88% and 0.39% respectively, as money rotated ever so slightly out of sectors that have led the bullish surge higher during the past week and back into those that have been underperforming, like Entergy Corporation (NYSE:ETR), up 2.83%, and Duke Energy Corp (NYSE:DUK), up 2.76%.
Hope and animal spirits remain high on Wall Street as analysts await President Trump’s promised tax reforms and traders gear up for Snap Inc.’s — the parent company of Snapchat, the disappearing message app — initial public offering (IPO), which the company has initially priced between $14 to $16, giving the company a market cap between $19.5 billion to $22.2 billion.
10-year Treasury yields backed off their recent highs above 2.5%, dropping to 2.45%, as traders eased their recent selling, and the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index lost 0.3% as expectations for an interest rate hike by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) at its upcoming March meeting eased somewhat after yesterday’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers and this week’s testimony from Fed Chair Janet Yellen boosted inflation concerns.
According to the CME Group’s FedWatch Tool, odds of a 15-basis-point rate hike at the March meeting dropped from 31% on Wednesday to only 17.7% on Thursday.
Conclusion: Thursday’s stock market pullback was a miniscule speed bump at best within the larger context of the bullish trend that has been pushing stocks higher for most of the month of February. After all, we can’t expect the market to set new all-time highs every day, now can we? As Wall Street heads into the long three-day President’s Day weekend (with the market remaining closed on Monday, Feb. 20), however, don’t be surprised if you see some additional profit taking even while other stocks are continuing their climb higher.
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