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S&P 500 is flat to start the week as fears of slowing global growth loom

S&P 500 is flat to start the week as fears of slowing global growth loom

16 Aug 2021

The S&P 500 pared earlier losses Monday to trade near the flatline amid fears of slowing global growth, with China’s economic recovery lagging and oil prices falling.

The broad index was little changed to start the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up about 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite dipped roughly 0.3%.

Data showed Chinese economic growth slowing more than expected. China’s retail sales increased by 8.5% in July year-over-year, below the 11.5% forecast from economists polled by Reuters. Online sales gained just 4.4% for the month. On the manufacturing sector in the country, industrial production increased by 6.4%, below the 7.8% consensus estimate.

The country’s National Bureau of Statistics noted an impact from Covid and domestic flooding, saying the country’s “economic recovery is still unstable and uneven.”

“Delta driven slowdown grips China,” CNBC’s Jim Cramer said in a tweet. “Not sure of impact here yet.”

Oil prices dropped after the release of the Chinese economic data. U.S. oil benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude futures fell, pressuring energy names. Occidental Petroleum shed roughly 3%, while Exxon Mobil and Chevron each dropped around 1%.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note dipped to 1.255% as investors worried about global growth. Bond yields fall as their prices rise.

Bank stocks trended lower as the 10-year yield fell. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs each dropped around 1%.

Tesla’s stock retreated Monday after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a formal probe into the electric vehicle maker’s Autopilot partially automated driving system.

Shares of Moderna, which are up more than 260% this year, lost more than 3% Monday.

U.S. stocks also pulled back amid growing support within the Federal Reserve to announce a tapering of its bond purchases in September and begin the reduction in buying a month or so after. Interviews with central bank officials, along with their public comments, show growing support for a faster taper timeline than markets had expected a month ago.

Meanwhile, retail stocks inched higher ahead of quarterly earnings reports from major companies. Walmart gained about 1% ahead of its quarterly report slated for Tuesday. Home Depot, Target and Lowe’s all edged higher ahead of financial reports this week.

The major stock indexes for much of the last month have ground to new records on the back of robust corporate earnings results. The S&P 500 has closed at a record high 48 times this year out of 155 trading days, or 31% of the time — the most frequent closing highs on record back to 1950.

Eighty-seven percent of S&P 500 companies have reported positive earnings per share surprises for the second calendar quarter, according to FactSet as of Friday. If 87% is the final percentage, it will mark the highest percentage of S&P 500 companies reporting positive EPS surprises since FactSet began tracking this metric in 2008.

“These are the dog days of August, and low volume and directionless volatility are the order of the moment with 2Q21 earnings season mostly behind us,” Raymond James’ Tavis McCourt said in a note.

— With reporting by Evelyn Cheng.