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While you were sleeping: Amazon hits $US1000 as Wall St slips

UPDATED: The online retailer's shares have eclipsed those of Google parent Alphabet.

Margreet Dietz
Wed, 31 May 2017

Amazon shares hit $US1000 for the first time as Wall Street slipped from record highs.

Technology stocks have led this year's rise with a 19% increase by the sector in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

Amazon's rise also eclipsed Google parent Alphabet, whose class A shares are at $US993.50. Amazon closed at $US996.70.

At the close of trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 50.81 points, or 0.2%, to 21,029.47. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.1% and the S&P 500 Index was also down 0.1% at 2412.91..

On Monday US financial markets had been closed for the Memorial Day holiday.

The Dow moved lower as declines in shares of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, down 2% and 1.7% respectively, outweighed gains in shares of Verizon and those of 3M, up 1.9% and 0.9% respectively.

Energy was one of the worst-performing sectors in the S&P 500 as US crude for July delivery lost 0.3% to settle at $US49.66 a barrel.

Government bonds strengthened, with the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note falling to 2.217% from 2.248% on Friday. 

Jobs data due
Investors are focused on the latest US jobs data, with Friday's government nonfarm payrolls report expected to show a gain of 185,000 positions expected, according to a Bloomberg poll.

Federal Reserve policy makers are expected to raise their target interest rate when they next meet in June. Inflation, however, remains a concern.

A Commerce Department report showed the core personal consumption expenditures price index, an inflation measure closely watched by the Fed, slipped to a year-on-year pace of 1.5% last month, down from 1.6% in March.

"It likely will be appropriate soon to adjust the federal funds rate," Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in a speech in New York.

Even so, she warned, "if the soft inflation data persist, that would be concerning and, ultimately, could lead me to reassess the appropriate path of policy."

A separate Commerce Department report showed that consumer spending rose 0.4% in April, following after an upwardly revised 0.3% increase in March.

Consumer confidence falls
Meanwhile, a Conference Board report showed its consumer confidence index declined to a reading of 117.9 in May from 119.4 in April.

"Fed officials can continue with their gradual pace of rate hikes in June as the economy remains on course for stronger growth this quarter and throughout the rest of the year," Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York, told Reuters.

Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, in an interview with CNBC, said he foresaw two more interest rate increases in 2017 and a start to the process of unwinding the Fed's $US4.5 trillion bond portfolio.

"Two things drive GDP: growth in the labour force and growth in productivity," he said.

"The problem is labour force growth is very sluggish. And my own judgment and our economists at the Dallas Fed think it's going to continue to be sluggish the next 10 years because the population is aging and labour force growth therefore is slowing."

European stocks fall
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the day with a 0.2% decrease from the previous close. Germany's DAX Index fell 0.2%, the UK's FTSE 100 Index shed 0.3% and France's CAC40 Index declined 0.5%.

A European Commission report showed its index of executive and consumer sentiment declined for the first time this year, sliding to 109.2 in May from a revised 109.7 in April.

Even so, many are increasingly bullish on the outlook for the eurozone economy.

"Europe will grow as fast as the US if not faster this year, which is a big surprise," Larry Fink, BlackRock chief executive officer, said during an investing conference in New York, Bloomberg reported.

US growth in the "mid-2s is not happening," while Europe would likely grow at the mid-2.5% rate this year, Fink noted.


Margreet Dietz
Wed, 31 May 2017
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While you were sleeping: Amazon hits $US1000 as Wall St slips