U.S. equities ended Monday slightly lower, despite a rise in oil prices, as investors awaited key retail sales data due later this week.
“What I’m looking for is to see if this [rotation between sectors] continues,” said Adam Sarhan, CEO of Sarhan Capital. “Every day there seems to be” a new sector leading the market.
The benchmark S&P 500 fell about 0.1 percent, led lower by health care. Energy, on the other hand, rose more than 1 percent. Earlier in the session, the S&P set a fresh all-time intraday high of 2,185.54.
“To some extent, people don’t know what to make of the market,” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank. “It’s done exceptionally well” despite mixed data.
The Dow Jones industrial average ended approximately 15 points lower, with Merck contributing the most losses.
“I think people are keeping their powder dry for two reasons: we’re getting more consumer-oriented companies reporting this week and we’re getting retail sales data,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity analyst at Fort Pitt Capital, adding that “it could be that nobody is at their trading desks.”
“It doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of volume out there,” she said.
The Nasdaq composite slipped 0.15 percent, as the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) dropped 1 percent.
“I’m expecting a neutral, sideways week because earnings season is mostly over and we just hit all-time highs,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab, adding that the economic data calendar this week is a light one.
On Friday, U.S. equities surged, with the Dow jumping nearly 200 points and the S&P and the Nasdaq closing at record highs after a strong July jobs report was released.
“It’s been a grind higher,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. “We’ve gone [more than]17 days without a 1 percent move on the S&P and yet we’re still at all-time highs.”
The U.S. economy added 255,000 jobs in July, considerably more than the expected 180,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“We’re probably headed towards 2,200 before the [Federal Reserve’s] Jackson Hole meeting,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial, adding the jobs report was offsetting weak China economic data released overnight, including a fall in July exports.
“Also lending a hand are rising oil prices,” Cardillo said.
U.S. crude futures advanced 2.92 percent, to settle at $43.02 a barrel amid a report of renewed calls by some OPEC members to restrain output, even as analysts warned bearish fundamentals that brought prices to four-month lows last week still lurked.
There are no major economic data due Monday, but investors were looking ahead to July retail sales, due Friday.
Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said in a Monday note to clients the U.S. consumer is “the only thing keeping the US economy out of recession.”
“After hearing apprehensive comments about spending over the last few weeks from Ford, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Yum Brands, we heard this (lost in the euphoria of the good payroll report) from QVC on Friday: ‘Beginning in early June QVC’s US sales began to experience significant headwinds, which have continued. The sales declines, as compared to prior periods, have averaged in the mid to high single digit percentages,'” he said.
A slew of retail firms, including Nordstrom and Macy’s, are scheduled to report quarterly results later this week.
In other corporate news, Allergan reported adjusted quarterly earnings of $3.35 per share and revenue of about $3.7 billion, with profits beating estimates but revenues falling short. The firm’s Alzheimer’s drug, Namenda IR, lost patent exclusivity.
Auction house Sotheby’s posted earnings per share that easily beat Wall Street estimates, with revenues also beating forecasts.
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines experienced a nationwide outage, grounding all its flights.
U.S. Treasurys traded mixed, with the two-year note yield holding around 0.73 percent and the 10-year yield trading near 1.59 percent. The dollar rose about 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies, with the euro trading near $1.108 and the yen around 102.4.
Overseas, Asian equities rallied, with the Nikkei 225 advancing 2.44 percent and the Shanghai composite rising 0.93 percent. European shares were slightly higher, with the Stoxx 600 index rising 0.04 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed 14.24 points lower, or 0.08 percent, at 18,529, with Merck leading decliners and ExxonMobil the top advancer.
The S&P 500 fell 1.98 points, or 0.09 percent, to trade at 2,180.89, with health care leading seven sectors lower and energy the biggest riser.
The Nasdaq slipped 7.98 points, or 0.15 percent, to end at 5,213.14.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded higher, near 11.5.
About four stocks advanced for every three decliners at the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 775.31 million and a composite volume of 3.207 billion at the close.
Gold futures for December delivery settled $3.10 lower, at $1,341.30 per ounce.
High-frequency trading accounted for 49 percent of August’s daily trading volume of about 6.90 billion shares, according to TABB Group. During the peak levels of high-frequency trading in 2009, about 61 percent of 9.8 billion of average daily shares traded were executed by high-frequency traders.