Stocks have been trending sideways today, hovering a step above yesterday's closing levels. The S&P 500 is flirting with record territory, up 0.5%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has extended the record high it hit on Tuesday with a gain of 0.6% today. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is up 0.5%.
The widely-cited catalyst behind today's rally comes from across the pond, where the Italian government has reportedly given in to some of the EU's demands, cutting its budget-deficit target for 2020 and 2021 to 2.2% and 2.0% of GDP, respectively. Originally, Italy said that it would have a target of 2.4% for the next three years.
However, despite the seemingly positive news, the euro is down for a sixth straight day against the dollar, losing 0.2%.
On Wall Street, most S&P sectors are in positive territory this afternoon, with the interest-sensitive financial space (+1.2%) leading the charge amid a jump in Treasury yields. The yield on the benchmark 10-yr Treasury note is currently up seven basis points at 3.13% -- which is its highest level in more than seven years.
Other top-performing groups include industrials (+0.8%), information technology (+0.6%), and energy (+0.7%).
Energy shares are up after the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its weekly inventory report this morning, showing that U.S. crude stockpiles rose by a higher-than-expected 8.0 million barrels last week. WTI crude futures were somewhat volatile after the EIA release, but are now just modestly higher, up 0.3% at $75.47/bbl, extending yesterday's four-year high.
On the downside, three sectors are in negative territory this afternoon, including consumer staples (-0.3%), real estate (-0.7%), and utilities (-1.1%).
In individual stocks, General Motors (GM 34.34, +1.04) is up 3.1% after announcing that it will be partnering with Honda Motor (HMC 29.43, -1.03) to build autonomous vehicles. Honda shares are down 3.4%. Also of note, struggling retailer J.C. Penney (JCP 1.72, +0.17) has spiked 10.3% after appointing a new CEO, Jill Soltau, who is the former President and CEO of Joann Stores.
Reviewing today's economic data, which included the ISM Services Index for September, the ADP Employment Change report for September, and the weekly MBA Mortgage Applications Index:
- The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index checked in at 61.6% for September (Briefing.com consensus 58.2%), up from 58.5% in August.
- The key takeaway from the report is that it clearly indicates business activity is strong for the service-providing sector of the economy, which accounts for a much larger slice of economic activity than the manufacturing sector does.
- The ADP National Employment Report showed an increase of 230,000 in September (Briefing.com consensus 184,000), and the August reading was revised to 168,000 (from 163,000). The ADP reading is seen as a prelude to the BLS's nonfarm payrolls figure (Briefing.com consensus 184,000), which will be released on Friday.
- The weekly MBA Mortgage Applications Index was flat to follow last week's increase of 2.9%.