U.S. stocks closed mostly lower on Tuesday, 19 March 2019 with the Dow Jones Industrial Average snapping a four-day winning streak, as investors tried to make sense of a pair of conflicting reports on U.S.-China trade talks. The Federal Reserve also convened a two-day policy meeting which will conclude Wednesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 26.72 points, or 0.1%, to 25,887.38, while the S&P 500 slipped 0.37 point to 2,832.57. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 9.47 points, or 0.1%, to 7,723.95.
Reports that China is pushing back against U.S. demands for concessions in bilateral trade talks dampened market sentiment with major indexes coming off intraday highs. However there were also reports that the The Wall Street Journal also reported that the two countries are in the final stages of negotiations.
The Fed, which began its two-day meeting Tuesday, is widely expected to maintain the tone it adopted in January, when it abruptly put its rate-hike plan on pause and took a wait-and-see approach to future rate moves. The Fed, is widely expected to maintain the tone it adopted in January, when it abruptly put its rate-hike plan on pause and took a wait-and-see approach to future rate moves.
Factory orders increased 0.1% in January (consensus +0.2%) on the heels of an unrevised 0.1% increase in December. The key takeaway from the report is that business investment picked up, evidenced by a 0.8% increase in orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft that followed a 0.8% decline in December. Shipments of those same goods also increased 0.8% in January, which will be a positive input for Q1 GDP forecasts.
On Tuesday, the ICE U.S. Dollar Index, a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was off 0.2%. A weaker dollar can be seen as supportive for commodities priced in the unit by making them cheaper to users of other currencies.
Crude oil futures held ground near multimonth highs on Tuesday, 19 March 2019 at Nymex with major global producers outside the U.S. expected to continue to keep a lid on output. The U.S. benchmark, however, eased back to settle a few cents lower after finishing Monday at its highest since November as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies looked set to continue their crude production cuts until June.
April West Texas Intermediate crude fell by 6 cents, or 0.1%, to settle at $59.03 a barrel. The contract settled at $59.09 Monday on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The April WTI contract expires at the end of Wednesday's session.
Bullion prices ended higher at Comex on Tuesday, 19 March at Comex. Gold futures ended higher on Tuesday, finishing above $1,300 an ounce for a third straight session, as traders looked to a two-day Federal Reserve meeting that's expected to see policy makers maintain a dovish stance.
April gold on Comex rose $5, or 0.4%, to settle at $1,306.50 an ounce, the highest finish for a most-active contract since the month-to-date high on March 13. May silver settled 5 cents higher at $15.372 an ounce, up 0.3%.
U.S. Treasuries closed on a lower note, pushing yields slightly higher. The 2-yr yield and the 10-yr yield increased one basis point each to 2.46% and 2.61%, respectively.
Looking ahead, investors will receive the FOMC Rate Decision and the weekly MBA Mortgage Applications Index on Wednesday.