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Stock Market News for July 30, 2013

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Markets declined on Monday as investors were unwilling to take any positions ahead of this week’s Federal Reserve meeting and a slew of major domestic reports. The Federal Reserve policy meeting might decide the future of the bond buying program. Meanwhile, pending home sales fell in June after touching a six year high in the month of May. On the international front, the International Monetary Fund announced a 1.7 billion euro bailout for Greece. The energy sector was the worst performer among the S&P 500 industry groups. Materials stocks gained the most.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article.  

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) lost 0.2% to close the day at 15,521.97. The S&P 500 slipped 0.4% to finish yesterday’s trading session at 1,685.33. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.4% to end at 3,599.14. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) jumped 5.3% to settle at 13.39. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were roughly 5.9 billion shares, below 2013’s average of 6.4 billion shares. Declining stocks outnumbered the advancers. For the 69% that declined, only 29% advanced.

Attention has now shifted from earnings to the outcome of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting. The Fed policy meeting, which will start on Tuesday, may provide indications about the future of the bond buying program. A series of domestic reports will be released this week. The GDP estimate for the second quarter will be released on Wednesday and the non-farm payroll numbers on Friday. Investors think that huge gains in job numbers may prompt the Federal Reserve to end its bond buying program sooner-than-expected.   

On the earnings front, hotel and casino operator Wynn Resorts, Limited (NASDAQ:WYNN) reported second quarter results on Monday. The company’s earnings came in below the Street’s estimates and declined 6% in the reported quarter. Excluding one- time items, the company earned $1.51 per share. Wynn Resorts revenues increased 6.3% to $1.33 billion. The company’s revenue was boosted by a 16% gain from the Las Vegas operations. Despite missing the Street’s estimates, the company’s shares gained 0.2% yesterday.  

 Hotel, energy and financial services conglomerate, Loews Corporation (NYSE:L) reported second quarter reports. The company’s earnings reported a sharp increase in its second quarter earnings boosted by a 17% rise in profit at its insurance unit CNA Financial Corporation (NYSE:CNA). The company earned $0.69 per share. According to Thomson Reuters data, more than 50% of S&P 500 companies have reported their quarterly results, among which 67% have beaten earnings estimates. Around 56% of these companies have reported revenues above the Street’s estimates.

On the home front, the National Association of Realtors posted pending home sales numbers. According to the report, the pending home sales index declined 0.4% in June to 110.9 from the downwardly revised May figure of 111.3. This was below the consensus estimate of a decline of 1.4%.  NAR chief economist, Lawrence Yun said: “Mortgage interest rates began to rise in May, taking some of the momentum out of contract activity in June.” “The persistent lack of inventory also is contributing to lower contract signings,” he added.

On the international front, investors received encouraging news from Greece. The International Monetary Fund extended a loan of 1.7 billion euros for Greece’s bailout. In March 2012, Greece was provided with a total bailout of 173 billion euro over a four year period. This loan was approved with the sole intention of saving the country’s economy from defaulting and preventing an exit from the Euro Zone. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF said: “Urgent steps need to be taken to address concerns about the structure and governance of the privatization program and to improve its effectiveness.

The materials sector was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups and the Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB) gained 0.6%.  Stocks such as Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. (NYSE:APD), Airgas, Inc. (NYSE:ARG), The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW), Eastman Chemical Company (NYSE:EMN) and Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON) gained 0.5%, 1.0%, 0.9%, 1.2% and 1.0%, respectively.

The energy sector was the biggest loser among the S&P 500 industry groups and the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) lost 0.8%. Stocks such as Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE:MRO), Hess Corp. (NYSE:HES), Devon Energy Corporation (NYSE:DVN) and Apache Corporation (NYSE:APA) slipped 1.1%, 0.6%, 1.6%, 2.0% and 1.1%, respectively.

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