US stocks rise as Wall Street tries to end August on a high note
Thursday, August 31, 2017
- Wall Street has dealt with different issues throughout the month.
- Yet stocks were on track for a steady monthly performance.
U.S. stocks traded higher on Thursday, the last trading day of the month, as Wall Street tried to end August on a high note. Investors also digested a broad swath of economic data ahead of a key employment report.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 75 points, with UnitedHealth contributing the most to the gains. The S&P 500 gained 0.5 percent, with health care leading all sectors higher. The Nasdaq compositeadvanced 0.6 percent.
Wall Street has dealt with different issues throughout the month, including political uncertainty, geopolitical tension and a storm that ravaged Houston and other parts of South Texas. Yet stocks were on track for a steady monthly performance.
Entering Thursday’s session, the Dow was on track for a marginal monthly gain, while the Nasdaq composite was up 0.3 percent in August. The S&P was on track for a slight loss, however, and was set to snap a four-month winning streak.
Aug. 21 “marked a near-term low for the market and stocks have bounced back from it. Two days ago, we also saw another near-term low that the market rebounded from,” said Adam Sarhan, CEO of 50 Park Investments. “Investors are now looking for clues as to where does the market go from here.”
Investors also digested key economic data released Thursday.
Weekly jobless claims totaled 236,000, matching estimates, while the so-called core personal consumption expenditures increased 1.4 percent in July on a year-over-year basis, the smallest gain since December 2015. The core PCE is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, and it’s lagging the central bank’s 2 percent target.
“The headline inflationary figures, which include swings in energy costs, should soar for September; however, this jump will prove ephemeral and will not impact the Fed’s preferred gauge of pricing pressures,” said Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities.
Treasury yields fell after the inflation data were released. The benchmark 10-year note yield traded at 2.138 percent, while the two-year yield slipped to 1.33 percent.
Other economic data released Thursday included pending home sales, which fell 0.8 percent in June. The data deluge comes a day ahead of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly employment report, which is scheduled for release on Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Overseas, stocks got a boost from strong economic data. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index rose nearly 1 percent after euro zone inflation hit 1.5 percent on a year-over-year basis in August, marking the highest rate in four months. Asian stocks closed mostly higher overnight after China’s official manufacturing PMI topped expectations.
The positive overseas data followed strong economic numbers out of the U.S. On Wednesday, the U.S. government said the economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.0 percent on an annualized basis, above the expected gain rate of 2.7 percent.