Stock Market Today: Stocks Fall Again as Energy Sector Swoons

Weakness in energy stocks and dismal housing data weighed on stocks today.

technical chart for stocks
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stocks were hit with a second day of selling, as the energy sector (-2.3%) retreated following its recent run higher and data showed new housing starts fell dramatically in April.

"Commodities markets are self-correcting… [and] what sometimes happens is a surge in prices can sap demand," says Michael Reinking, senior market strategist for the New York Stock Exchange.

"This was somewhat on display this morning as the new housing starts number fell 9.5% (month-over-month) following the well-documented surge in lumber prices over the last year. There is still plenty of underlying demand as building permits were flat m/m."

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One bright spot today was Walmart (WMT (opens in new tab), +2.2%), which jumped after the mega-retailer reported stronger-than-expected Q1 results and raised its full-year forecast.

"Walmart was the top-performing member of the Dow today based on a positive earnings surprise and implications that big box stores are weathering the coronavirus reopening phase in good shape," says David Keller, chief market strategist at StockCharts.com.

"The stock jumped up to $145 earlier today, taking the stock above key trendline resistance and continuing the recovery from a low around $125 in earlier March. Walmart would need to remain above the $135 level to continue its current bullish trend. The real question for WMT is the sustainability of recent price gains in the face of broad selling pressure for equities and uncertainty about economic conditions in the coming months."

WMT's strength wasn't enough to keep the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the black, with the index falling 0.8% to 34,060 on weakness in oil major Chevron (CVX (opens in new tab), -3.0%). The S&P 500 Index followed suit, shedding 0.9% to 4,127.

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Other action in the stock market today:

  • The Nasdaq Composite couldn't hold on to earlier gains, falling 0.6% to 13,303.
  • The Russell 2000 dropped 0.7% to 2,210.
  • Home Depot (HD (opens in new tab), -1.0%) reported first-quarter earnings and revenues that easily beat estimates. The Dow stock still closed lower amid broad-market headwinds.
  • U.S. crude futures gave back 1.2% to settle at $65.49 per barrel.
  • Gold futures eked out a fractional gain to end at $1,868.00 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) spiked 8.2% to 21.34.
  • Several high-profile retail earnings (opens in new tab) roll in this week, with Cisco Systems (CSCO (opens in new tab)) among the top ones to watch.

stock price chart 051821

(Image credit: YCharts)

Buffett's Latest Stock Picks

The most important announcement over the past 24 hours, for Buffettologists at least, was the release of Berkshire Hathaway's (BRK.B (opens in new tab)) latest holdings list.

Warren Buffett, the famed CEO of Berkshire, revealed his firm's highly anticipated 13F filing on Monday night, showing the Oracle of Omaha and his team did a lot more selling than buying in the first quarter of 2021.

In addition to reversing course on a Dow stock that Berkshire had just piled into in the second half of 2020, Buffett continued to take a hatchet to the Berkshire Hathaway equity portfolio in big bank stocks. There was some notable action on the buy side, too, with "Uncle Warren" boosting his stake in a major grocery chain and opening a new position, fittingly, in the insurance industry.

To see which stocks Buffett bought and sold to start the year, read on as we take a closer look at the 18 moves he made in his portfolio over the most recent quarter.

Karee Venema
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger.com

With over a decade of experience writing about the stock market, Karee Venema is an investing editor and options expert at Kiplinger.com. She joined the publication in April 2021 after 10 years of working as an investing writer and columnist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. In her previous role, Karee focused primarily on options trading, as well as technical, fundamental and sentiment analysis.