Stock Market Today: Stocks End Choppy Week With a Loss
A lower-than-expected reading on consumer sentiment had the major indexes erasing weekly gains.
U.S. stock markets turned lower in early trading, and stayed in negative territory as the day wore on.
In addition to a lower-than-anticipated preliminary reading on the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment survey (71.0 vs. 72.0 expected), investors also had to contend with a "quadruple-witching" day.
This occurs four times a year – March, June, September and December – and marks the simultaneous expiration of index futures, index options, stock options and individual futures. It can often lead to heavier-than-usual volume and erratic moves in all or parts of the market.
By the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.5% at 34,584, the S&P 500 Index was off 0.9% at 4,432 and the Nasdaq Composite had given back 0.9% to 15,043 – with all three indexes erasing their weekly gains.
Next week, all eyes will be on the latest policy announcement from the Federal Reserve, due out on Wednesday afternoon.
Barclays economists "expect the committee to signal that it is prepared to reduce the pace of asset purchases 'later this year' conditional on further progress toward the dual mandate [of inflation and unemployment]." However, they do not believe a formal announcement will come until November or December.
Other news in the stock market today:
- The small-cap Russell 2000 ended 0.2% higher at 2,236.
- M&A buzz helped lift shares of Invesco (IVZ) 5.5% today. Specifically, a report in The Wall Street Journal suggested the financial firm is in talks to merge with State Street's (STT, -2.6%) asset-management division, according to people familiar with the matter. "We are not surprised that IVZ has entered another asset manager's crosshairs," CFRA analyst Catherine Seifert says. "We think the merger of these two firms makes sense, and would enhance STT's already strong exchange-traded fund (ETF) presence. We caution that a potential merger of the number four ETF provider (IVZ) with the third-largest ETF provider (STT), while potentially overtaking Vanguard and the second largest ETF provider, could also raise antitrust issues." Seifert has a Buy rating on Invesco.
- Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO, +6.5%) got a lift after the medtech company issued upbeat guidance. TMO expects fiscal 2022 earnings of $21.16 per share on $40.3 billion in revenue, well above the $19.68 earnings per share and $34.3 billion in sales analysts, on average, are expecting.
- U.S. crude oil futures slipped 0.9% to $71.97 per barrel.
- Gold futures declined 0.3% to end at $1,751.40 an ounce, marking their third straight loss.
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) jumped 11.3% to 20.81.
- Bitcoin edged up 0.1% to $47,505.29. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
Stay the Course With Stocks
Don't let the daily headlines distract you from long-term fundamentals.
There are several reasons to be constructive on stocks, says Tony DeSpirito, CIO of BlackRock's U.S. Fundamental Active Equities, including the return to a more normal, shareholder-friendly distribution of capital. In addition to surging share buybacks – which are reaching 2018's record levels – many publicly traded companies are raising and reinstating dividends.
"Through July, 45% of dividend payers in the Russell 1000 have hiked," DeSpirito notes. "This compares to a full-year average of 61%. At this rate, we estimate over 75% of dividend payers in the index could raise their payout by year-end."
If you want to brush up on the best dividend payers, check out the generous yields in real estate investment trusts (REITs) and healthcare stocks. And there are always the beloved Dividend Aristocrats, companies with a track record of increasing shareholder payouts for the last 25 straight years.
Not sure where to start? Take a look at these five names. This elite list has received top-billing from Wall Street pros based on their current financial situation and future prospects.