Equities opened the week with a flat, unenthusiastic performance on Monday following the long Thanksgiving weekend.
The S&P 500 Index (unch) and the Nasdaq Composite (-0.2%) finished with modest losses, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) eked out a slim victory. All three major stock indices kept within a pretty narrow range throughout the session amid lighter-than-usual trading volume.
More than half of the S&P 500's 11 sectors settled Monday's session in positive territory, but gains were limited. The lightly-weighted telecom services and utilities groups were the top performers, adding 0.4% and 0.5%, respectively, followed by the more influential industrial group, which finished higher by just 0.2%.
Conversely, the energy sector was the weakest group, moving lower by 1.0%, as the price of crude oil retreated from its best level in over two years; West Texas Intermediate crude futures finished the session lower by 1.4% at a price of $58.13 per barrel. Monday's loss extends the energy sector's year-to-date decline to 10.8%.
On a related note, OPEC and non-OPEC nations, including Russia, will meet in Vienna on Thursday to discuss extending their supply cut agreement beyond the current end date of March 2018. Most analysts believe that the oil producers will reach an extension agreement, but the length of said extension remains unclear.
Other notable events on this week's calendar include the Fed Chair confirmation hearing for Jerome Powell (Tuesday), current Fed Chair Janet Yellen's semiannual testimony before the Joint Economic Committee (Wednesday), and a vote on the Senate's tax reform bill (expected Thursday).
Corporate news was pretty light on Monday, but it's worth noting that shares of Time (TIME 18.50, +1.60) jumped 9.5% after the magazine company--which, in addition to Time, owns brands like Sports Illustrated, Fortune, and People--agreed to be acquired by Meredith (MDP 67.55, +6.55) for $18.50 per share.
In addition, retailers advanced on 'Cyber Monday' amid continued signs of an upbeat start to the holiday shopping season. L Brands (LB 50.34, +1.98) showed particular strength, adding 4.1%, as did online giant Amazon (AMZN 1195.83, +9.83), which climbed 0.8%--settling at a new record high.
U.S. Treasuries moved mostly higher in yet another curve-flattening trade that cut the 2yr-10yr spread to 58 basis points from 60 bps on Friday. The yield on the benchmark 10-yr Treasury note slipped two basis points to 2.32%, while the 2-yr yield finished unchanged at 1.74%. Yields move inversely to prices.
Elsewhere, the Euro Stoxx 50 dropped 0.5% despite news over the weekend that German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party has agreed to pursue a grand coalition with the Social Democrats in an attempt to break a political deadlock and avoid new elections.
Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region also finished Monday broadly lower, with China's Shanghai Composite (-0.9%) pacing the retreat.
Reviewing Monday's economic data, which was limited to October New Home Sales:
- New Home Sales hit an annualized rate of 685,000 in October, while the Briefing.com consensus expected a reading of 629,000. The September figure was revised to 645,000 from 667,000.
- The key takeaway from the report is that there was sales growth in all regions, led by a huge pickup in sales in the Northeast and the Midwest, underscoring the solid demand for new homes.
On Tuesday, investors will receive October Advance International Trade In Goods (Briefing.com consensus -$65.4 billion) at 8:30 ET, October Advance Wholesale Inventories also at 8:30 ET, the September FHFA Housing Price Index (Briefing.com consensus +0.6%) at 9:00 ET, the September S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index (Briefing.com consensus +6.0%) also at 9:00 ET, and November Consumer Confidence (Briefing.com consensus 124.0) at 10:00 ET.
- Nasdaq Composite +27.8% YTD
- Dow Jones Industrial Average +19.3% YTD
- S&P 500 +16.2% YTD
- Russell 2000 +11.5% YTD