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End of Day Briefing - Thursday May 28, 2020

Stocks give up gains on China uncertainty

Dow -147.63 at 25400.64, Nasdaq -43.37 at 9369.01, S&P -6.40 at 3029.60

[BRIEFING.COM] U.S. stocks trimmed weekly gains on Thursday, as headline uncertainty related to China caused the major indices to falter into the close. The S&P 500 (-0.2%), Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.6%), and Nasdaq Composite (-0.5%) finished slightly lower. The Russell 2000, which traded lower for most of the session, declined 2.5%.

The market started the session little changed, catching its breath after a strong two-day rally, but also after China approved legislation to tighten its control over Hong Kong, weekly initial jobless claims totaled 2.123 million ( consensus 1.950 million), and Q1 GDP was revised down to -5.0% ( consensus -4.8%) from -4.8% in the advance estimate.

Investors, at first, didn't feel inclined to sell given the fear of missing out on further gains amid growing signs of an economic recovery. Buyers, instead, concentrated their efforts toward the defensive-oriented segments of the market, such as the leading S&P 500 utilities (+3.0%), health care (+1.3%), and real estate (+1.2%) sectors.

Sellers later took control after President Trump said late in the session that he will hold a press event about China on Friday. Reports indicated that the president could unveil sanctions on Chinese officials in response to the Hong Kong national security law, threatening to exacerbate U.S.-China tensions.

The S&P 500 energy (-2.9%) and financials (-1.6%) sectors accelerated intraday losses following the headline negativity, while the consumer discretionary (-1.1%), industrials (-1.0%), and communication services (-1.0%) sectors fell into negative territory.

Shares of Facebook ($FB 225.46, -3.68, -1.6%) and Twitter ($TWTR 31.60, -1.47, -4.5%), meanwhile, were pressured by President Trump's executive-order plans to limit legal protections for social media companies that unfairly stifle free speech.

Separately, Workday ($WDAY 182.56, +12.18, +7.2%) and Dollar Tree ($DLTR 97.64, +10.11, +11.6%) stood out after pleasing investors with their earnings reports, while HP Inc. ($HPQ 15.01, -2.11, -12.3%) disappointed investors with its results.

U.S. Treasuries ended the session mixed. The 2-yr yield was unchanged at 0.17%, while the 10-yr yield increased three basis points to 0.71%. The U.S. Dollar Index declined 0.6% to 98.50. WTI crude futures rose 2.7%, or $0.89, to $33.68/BBL.

Reviewing Thursday's batch of economic data:

  • Initial claims for the week ending May 23 decreased by 323,000 to 2.123 million ( consensus 1.950 million). Continuing claims for the week ending May 16 decreased by 3,860,000 to 21.052 million.
    • The key takeaway from the report will be the downturn in continuing claims, which will feed into the market's upbeat view about reopening prospects.
  • New orders for durable goods declined 17.2% m/m in April ( consensus -17.0%) following a downwardly revised 16.6% decline (from -14.4%) in March. Excluding transportation, new orders for durable goods declined 7.4% m/m ( consensus -8.4%) following a downwardly revised 1.7% decline (from -0.2%) in March.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that it wasn't much of a surprise as activity in April seized up with the shutdown measures employed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The second estimate for Q1 GDP showed a downward revision to -5.0% ( consensus -4.8%) from the 4.8% decline seen in the advance estimate. The GDP Price Deflator was revised up to 1.4% ( consensus 1.3%) from 1.3%.
    • The key takeaway from the report is that it's old news for a market that is clearly locked on the idea that economic activity is going to be rebounding in coming months.
  • Pending Home Sales dropped 21.8% in April ( consensus -4.8%) after declining an unrevised 20.8% in March.

Looking ahead to Friday, investors will receive the Personal Income and Spending report for April, the revised University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment for May, the Chicago PMI for May, and the Advance International Trade in Goods, Retail Inventories, and Wholesale Goods reports for April.

  • Nasdaq Composite +4.4% YTD
  • S&P 500 -6.2% YTD
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average -11.0% YTD
  • Russell 2000 -16.1% YTD

Market Snapshot

SP 5003029.60-6.40(-0.21%)
10-yr Note -1/320.700
NYSEAdv 1220 Dec 1665 Vol 1.0 bln
NasdaqAdv 1107 Dec 2135 Vol 4.0 bln

Industry Watch

Strong: Health Care, Utilities, Consumer Staples
Weak: Financials, Energy

Moving the Market

-- Defensive-minded session

-- President Trump says he will hold a separate press event on Friday about China

-- Weekly initial jobless claims total 2.123 million ( consensus 1.950 million)

-- Financial stocks trim weekly gains

ECONOMIC EVENTS: In U.S. data, a revision in the first quarter GDP contraction rate to 5.0% from 4.8% left a slightly weaker than expected headline thanks to a huge $50.8B revision to inventories. Durable goods orders dropped another 17.2% in April. Weekly jobless claims contracted 323,000 to 2.12M in the week ended May 23, moving the four-week moving average down to 2.61M. An index of pending home sales declined 21.8% to 69.0 in April.

TOP NEWS: Social media companies were in focus after Reuters reported that President Donald Trump will sign an executive order regarding the industry after the president threatened to shut down websites he accused of stifiling conservative voices. The heads of the two most prominent social media companies, Twitter ($TWTR) and Facebook ($FB), appear on different sides of the issue, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News' Dana Perino that privately-owned digital platforms should not act as the "arbiter of truth," while Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended his platform's decision to fact check and place warnings on two of Trump's tweets this week. "Fact check: there is someone ultimately accountable for our actions as a company, and that's me," Dorsey said. "Please leave our employees out of this. We'll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally. And we will admit to and own any mistakes we make. This does not make us an 'arbiter of truth.' Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions."

HP Inc. ($HPQ) shares fell 11% after the company reported results for the second quarter, with earnings per share beating analysts' estimates and revenue coming in below expectations. The company also provided conservative third quarter guidance and noted that it had some supply chain issues in Q2.

Meanwhile, shares of Boeing ($BA) rose 3% after the company said last night that it has resumed production of 737 MAX aircraft at its Renton, Washington factory. "We've been on a continuous journey to evolve our production system and make it even stronger," said Walt Odisho, vice president and general manager of the 737 program. "These initiatives are the next step in creating the optimal build environment for the 737 MAX."

Additionally, Hertz ($HTZ) shares dropped 13% after activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed in a regulatory filing last night that he has exited his stake in the rental car company.

MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Diversified Healthcare Trust ($DHC), which rose 15% after being named to join the S&P 600. Also higher were Triumph ($TGI) and Dollar Tree ($DLTR), which gained a respective 36% and 11% after reporting quarterly results.

Among the notable loser was Iovance Therapeutics ($IOVA), which slid 15% after announcing an offering of $500M of common stock. Also lower was Plantronics ($PLT), which fell 10% after reporting quarterly results.

Source: (

Disclosure: I may trade in the ticker symbols mentioned, both long or short. My articles represent my personal opinion and analysis and should not be taken as investment advice. Readers should do their own research before making decisions to buy or sell securities. Trading and investing include risks, including loss of principal.

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