Stocks Stage a Modest Retreat

The Week on Wall Street

Investors reacted to two major news items last week, one far more of a surprise than the other. The Federal Reserve did indeed make a rate cut, matching Wall Street expectations. Drone strikes on two of the world's largest oil fields brought a shock to the global oil market.

At Friday's closing bell, stocks wound up with weekly losses after news broke that Chinese trade officials were heading home from the U.S. sooner than planned. The S&P 500 retreated 0.51% week-over-week and the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.05%.  International Stocks also fell 0.31% while the U.S. Aggregate Bond Index grew by 0.88%.

Another Quarter-Point Cut

Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee voted 7-3 to lower the benchmark interest rate by another 0.25%, to a range of 1.75% to 2.00%.

While traders looked for signs of future guidance on monetary policy, little emerged from the latest Fed policy statement and Fed chair Jerome Powell's subsequent press conference. The updated interest rate forecast showed that seven Fed officials anticipated at least one more cut before 2020, while ten did not.

Oil Prices Jump

As last week began, crude oil futures spiked in response to an attack that interrupted roughly 5% of the world's oil production. The value of West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, spiked 14.7% in a day, or $8.05 to $62.90 at Monday's close.

This was oil's biggest one-day leap since September 2008. Prices came down from there: Friday, WTI crude settled at $58.48.

Final Thought

So, what day last week saw the biggest loss or gain for stocks? Not Monday, when the market absorbed news of the Saudi oil field strike. Not Wednesday, when the Fed rate cut occurred. Instead, it was Friday, when the S&P 500 lost only 0.49%. Last week was a good example of how, during a strong economic environment, stocks may ride through seemingly market-moving events with little daily change.

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