Nasdaq, S&P 500 Move To The Downside But Dow Reaches Best Closing Level In Over A Year

Following a strong July, U.S. stocks saw modest weakness to kick off the month of August. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 moved to the downside, although the narrower Dow managed to finish the day in positive territory.

The Nasdaq slid 62.11 points or 0.4 percent to 14,283.91 and the S&P 500 fell 12.23 points or 0.3 percent to 4,576.73, but the Dow rose 71.15 points or 0.2 percent to 35,630.68, its best closing level in well over a year.

The modest weakness on Wall Street may partly have reflected profit taking, as some traders looked to cash in on the strong gains posted last month.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq soared by 4.1 percent for July, while the Dow and the S&P 500 jumped by 3.4 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively.

Overall trading activity remained somewhat subdued, however, as traders continued to look ahead to Friday’s closely watched monthly jobs report.

In U.S. economic news, a report released by the Institute for Supply Management showed U.S. manufacturing activity contracted for the ninth consecutive month in July.

The ISM said its manufacturing PMI crept up to 46.4 in July from 46.0 in June, but a reading below 50 continues to indicate contraction. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 46.8.

The Commerce Department also released a report showing construction spending rose by slightly less than expected in the month of June.

A separate report released by the Labor Department showed job openings edged down 9.58 million in June from 9.62 million in May.

Meanwhile, the uptick by the Dow came amid a substantial gain by Caterpillar, with the construction equipment manufacturer surging by 8.9 percent after reporting better than expected second quarter results.

Sector News

Gold stocks turned in some of the market’s worst performances on the day, with a steep drop by the price of the precious metal weighing on the sector.

With gold for December delivery tumbling $30.40 to $1,978.80 an ounce, the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index plunged by 3.3 percent.

Airline stocks also showed a substantial move to the downside, resulting in a 2.4 percent nosedive by the NYSE Arca Airline Index. With the drop, the index fell to its lowest closing level in well over a month.

JetBlue (JBLU) led the sector lower, with the airline plummeting by 8.3 percent after reporting better than expected second quarter earnings but slashing its full-year guidance.

Steel, banking and biotechnology stocks also saw some weakness on the day, while networking and computer hardware stocks moved notably higher.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.9 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dipped by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the downside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index fell by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.2 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries moved sharply lower after ending the previous session slightly higher. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, jumped 9.2 basis points to a five-month closing high of 4.051 percent.

Looking Ahead

A report on private sector employment may attract attention on Wednesday ahead of the release of the Labor Department’s more closely watched report on Friday.

On the earnings front, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Electronic Arts (EA) and Starbucks (SBUX) are among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today’s trading.

CVS Health (CVS), DuPont (DD), Kraft Heinz (KHC) and Yum! Brands (YUM) are also among the companies due to report their results before the start of trading on Wednesday.

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