Stocks reclaimed a small portion of Monday's decline in choppy trade on Tuesday as investors began gearing up for the Fed's latest policy directive, which will cross the wires on Wednesday afternoon. The S&P 500 advanced 0.2%, trimming its weekly loss to 1.3%, while the Nasdaq climbed 0.3%, and the Dow jumped 0.5%.
The technology sector remained a focal point on Tuesday after leading Monday's sell off, and, for the most part, sentiment within the sector shifted; around three quarters of S&P 500 tech names finished in the green. However, Facebook (FB 168.15, -4.41) was a notable laggard for the second straight session, losing 2.6%, following reports that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating whether the company violated a 2011 settlement regarding data privacy when research firm Cambridge Analytica obtained the personal data of 50 million users without their consent.
The Cambridge Analytica incident, which was first reported over the weekend, has been met with cries for greater government regulation, and has prompted lawmakers on Capitol Hill to ask for hearings with CEOs from social media companies, including Twitter (TWTR 31.35, -3.63), which dropped 10.4% on Tuesday. Twitter was also dealing with reports that Israel is considering sanctions against the company for allegedly ignoring requests to remove content that supports terrorism.
Oracle (ORCL 47.05, -4.90) also weighed on the tech group, losing 9.4%, after its better-than-expected quarterly earnings were overshadowed by a disappointing pace of growth in its cloud computing business and the realization that a lower tax rate helped drive the positive earnings surprise.
In the end, the technology sector finished Tuesday flat, closing near the middle of the sector standings. In general, cyclical sectors outperformed their countercyclical peers. The top-performing sectors were consumer discretionary (+0.6%) and energy (+0.9%), while consumer staples (-0.3%), utilities (-0.5%), and telecom services (-1.0%) were the worst-performing groups.
The energy sector benefited from an increase in the price of crude oil; West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed 2.2% to $63.42 per barrel, hitting a three-week high. Heightened tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran helped underpin the commodity, as did projections for a decline in Venezuela production due to the country's ongoing economic crisis.
In the bond market, U.S. Treasuries sold off on Tuesday, pushing yields higher across the curve; the benchmark 10-yr yield climbed four basis points to 2.88%, while the 2-yr yield jumped five basis points to 2.34%, which is its highest level since September 2008.
Investors didn't have any economic data to digest on Tuesday, turning their attention to Wednesday's rate-hike decision instead. The market is all but certain that the Fed will vote to raise the Fed funds target range by 25 basis points on Wednesday, so the Fed's economic and rate-hike projections will be the real main event. The CME FedWatch Tool is currently pointing towards a total of three rate hikes this year--although the chances for a fourth hike are sitting at 39.9%.
Also of note, President Trump is reportedly planning to announce $60 billion worth of annual tariffs on Chinese imports at the end of the week. The tariffs, which were first reported last Wednesday, will target more than 100 products, which the president argues were developed using trade secrets from American companies.
- Nasdaq Composite: +6.7% YTD
- S&P 500: +1.6% YTD
- Dow Jones Industrial Average: unch YTD
- Russell 2000: +2.3% YTD
Headlines provided by Briefing.com