The S&P 500 clawed back to record territory this week, closing Friday at a new high for the first time since January 26. Political uncertainty, trade ambiguity, and expectations for two more rate hikes this year all failed to dissuade motivated buyers, who pushed stocks higher in three of the week’s five sessions.
As for the other major averages, the Nasdaq and the Russell 2000 also notched new records, adding 1.7% and 1.9%, respectively, while the Dow climbed 0.5%.
The week started on a mildly positive note, with stocks ticking higher on Monday and Tuesday, but investors were cautious over the next two sessions, largely due to the legal woes of President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
Mr. Manafort was convicted of tax and bank fraud on Tuesday afternoon, while Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to a range of charges, including tax fraud and excessive campaign contributions, and implicated the president directly.
Moving on to the trade front, two days of trade talks between the U.S. and China wrapped up on Thursday without any visible sign of progress. President Trump said beforehand that he wasn’t expecting much to come out of the talks, which marked the first official negotiations since a breakdown nearly three months ago.
In monetary policy, President Trump reiterated his displeasure with the Fed on Monday, saying he was “not thrilled” with Fed Chair Jerome Powell for raising rates.
Two days later, the Fed released the minutes from the July/August FOMC meeting, which only strengthened the expectation that the U.S. central bank will hike rates at its September meeting, with officials saying in the minutes that it would likely “soon” be appropriate to raise rates.
Then, on Friday, Fed Chairman Powell gave a speech at the Kansas City Fed’s annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, saying that gradual rate hikes remain appropriate. Mr. Powell also expressed confidence in the economy and said he doesn’t see any signs of inflation getting out of hand.
Seven of eleven sectors advanced this week, with cyclical groups showing relative strength. The energy sector (+2.6%) was the top performer – rebounding from last week’s 3.6% tumble – helped by an increase in crude prices; West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed 4.2% this week to $68.66 per barrel.
Meanwhile, the consumer discretionary sector (+2.0%) also outperformed amid a steady flow of retail earnings. TJX (TJX) jumped 4.7% on Tuesday after reporting better-than-expected results, while Lowe’s (LOW) and Target (TGT) added 5.8% and 3.2%, respectively, on Wednesday after also beating estimates.
Source: Briefing Investor