Major U.S. Stock Indexes Fluctuate Before Closing Mixed

After ending the previous session little changed, the major U.S. stock indexes fluctuated over the course of the trading day on Tuesday before eventually closing mixed.

The major averages all came under pressure going into the close, although the Dow managed to end the day up 98.27 points or 0.3 percent at 33,684.79.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 closed nearly flat, down just 0.17 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 4,108.94, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 52.48 points or 0.4 percent to 12,031.88.

A lack of major U.S. economic data kept some traders on the sidelines ahead of the release of several key reports in the coming days.

The Labor Department’s report on consumer price inflation in the month of March is due to be released tomorrow morning and could have a significant impact on the outlook for interest rates.

Economists currently expect consumer prices to rise by 0.3 percent in March, while the annual rate of growth is expected to slow to 5.2 percent from 6.0 percent.

Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, are expected to climb by 0.4 percent in March, although the year-over-year growth is expected to accelerate to 5.6 percent from 5.5 percent.

Ahead of the report, CME Group’s FedWatch Tool is currently indicating a 66.5 percent chance the Federal Reserve will raise rates by a quarter point next month.

Reports on produce price inflation, retail sales and industrial production are also likely to attract attention in the coming days.

Earnings news may also drive trading later in the week, with financial giants Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) due to report their quarterly results on Friday.

Sector News

Despite the lackluster performance by the broader markets, airline stocks moved sharply higher on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Airline Index up by 3.4 percent.

The rally by airline stocks came after aerospace giant Boeing (BA) revealed it delivered 64 planes in the month of March, the most since December.

Optimism about additional stimulus from China also contributed to substantial strength among steel stocks, as reflected by the 3.1 percent surge by the NYSE Arca Steel Index.

Housing, oil service and banking stocks also saw considerable strength on the day, while weakness among software and networking stocks weighed on the Nasdaq.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index jumped by 1.1 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed by 0.8 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index jumped by 0.9 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index advanced by 0.6 percent and the German DAX Index climbed by 0.4 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries moved modestly lower over the course of the session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, rose by 1.9 basis points to 3.434 percent.

Looking Ahead

Early trading on Wednesday is likely to be driven by reaction to the consumer price inflation data, while the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting may attract attention later in the day.

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