Market Update & Important Indicators
U.S. stocks fell as disappointing earnings reports from Macy's and Walt Disney fueled a selloff in the consumer-discretionary sector. Losses deepened in the afternoon, threatening to wipe out Tuesday's gains. Macy's shares lost 14% after the retailer cut its forecast for the year amid slumping sales. Chief Executive Terry Lundgren said the company isn't counting on a pickup in consumer spending. Other retailers also declined, including a 5.8% fall in Kohl's shares and a 6.8% drop in Nordstrom.
For months, analysts and investors have been hoping for a broad-based revival in spending that could propel the U.S. economy, as consumers saved money at the gas pump and the job market continued to heal. But consumer spending has been decelerating for three quarters in a row and the U.S. economy grew just 0.5% in the first quarter. Retail sales, scheduled for release Friday, are expected to rise 0.8% in April, according to economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal. The S&P 500's consumer-discretionary sector, which includes retailers and media companies, dropped 1.9%. Just two stocks in the sector traded higher, Amazon.com and Tegna. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.4%.
Stocks in the Philippines surged for a second day as unofficial presidential election results showed Rodrigo Duterte headed for victory. The Philippines' PSE Index closed up 3.1% to 7396.52, adding to its 2.1% gain in the previous session. Investors there shrugged off a sharp decline in March exports and continued to cheer the election's likely outcome.
Across Asia, however, trading was choppy as investors gauged the sustainability of a rally that has continued across the region's stock markets since February. The Nikkei Stock Average ended up just 0.1% and weakness emerged in China and Hong Kong, in particular. The Shanghai Composite Index wavered between positive and negative, ultimately finishing up 0.2%. The Hang Seng Index closed down 0.9%, led lower by property and financial stocks.
Australia's stock market rose for a fifth straight session to an almost nine-month high, driven by a rebound in resources stocks. Still, the market peaked early in the day and faded as further gains in bank stocks were erased after housing-finance data showed a seasonally-adjusted 0.9% fall in home-loan approvals in March from a month ago. The S&P/ASX 200 gained 29.5 points, or 0.6%, to 5372.30, its highest close since August. The index briefly broke above 5400 early on. The materials sector notched the sharpest gain as it bounced back from selling this week in the wake of weaker commodity prices, rising 2.7%, while the energy sub index was up 0.3%. BHP Billiton gained 4%, although it remains down 10% in May, while Rio Tinto rose 1.3% and South32 added 3.9%.
The London Metal Exchange's three-month copper contract was up 0.5% at $4,708 a metric ton at the PM kerb close, having hit a two-day high earlier in the session at $4,674 a ton. Elsewhere, aluminum closed up 0.7% at $1,547 a ton, zinc was up 3% at $1,897 a ton, nickel was up 2% at $8,843 a ton, lead was up 1.2% at $1,769 a ton and tin was up 0.3% at $17,245 a ton.
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