Dow ekes out gain as rate cut moves closer

Posted at 8:18 AM, Jul 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-22 16:22:14-04

Stocks finished modestly higher on Monday, with just a little over a week to go until a highly anticipated interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve.

The Dow, which was the only major stock index to trade in negative territory for some of the day, managed to get back into the black on Monday. The index closed 0.1%, or 18 points, higher.

The S&P 500 finished up 0.3%, putting it just 1% below its most recent record closing high. The Nasdaq Composite closed 0.7% higher.

President Donald Trump, who has long criticized the Fed for its monetary policy, again tweeted his displeasure on Monday.

In a follow-up tweet, Trump added that GDP and wealth accumulation in the United States could be much higher than they are.

Meanwhile, consensus expectations for the Fed to cut rates by a quarter percentage point still outweigh those for a half-point cut.

Trump Fed nominee Judy Shelton said she would have voted for a half-percentage point cut at next week’s meeting if she were part of the Federal Open Market Committee, according to The Washington Post.

Fed Funds futures price in “nearly three cuts this year but seems way too dovish in light of firm US retail sales and jobs data,” wrote Win Thin, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman. “The manufacturing sector remains a concern, but even that seems to be recovering in July,”

There are a few US economic data points coming before the Fed’s interest rate decision next Wednesday: home sales, trade data, jobless claims and most importantly second quarter GDP growth. The consensus estimate is 1.8% growth between April and June, according to Refinitiv.

Investors are also hoping for a budget deal, which would include a two-year suspension on the debt ceiling. Details of the deal were agreed late Sunday, but it hasn’t been voted on yet.

Elsewhere, oil prices remain elevated amid escalating tensions in the Middle East. US oil prices settled 1% higher at $56.22 a barrel, according to CME, while Brent crude, the international benchmark, settled up 1.3% at $63.36 a barrel.

Last week Iran seized two tankers, one British-flagged and one British-operated, in the Persian Gulf. Any further deterioration of the situation in the region should push oil prices higher.