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While you were sleeping: UPDATED US stocks ease as investor bide time

Fed official warns futures pricing could be too pessimistic.

Margreet Dietz
Tue, 05 Apr 2016

Wall Street moved lower, after six straight weekly gains, as investors awaited the next catalyst.

Last week, Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen said US policymakers would proceed cautiously in terms of raising rates, further underpinning a downgrade for rate hike expectations this year. 

Mrs Yellen is due to speak again on Thursday, along with former Fed chairmen Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker.

Even so, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren warned "the very slow removal of accommodation reflected in futures market pricing could prove too pessimistic."

"My assessment is that the US economy is continuing to improve despite the headwinds from abroad," he said in prepared remarks for a speech on Monday.

"If my forecast is right, it may imply more increases in short-term interest rates than are currently priced into futures markets – but let me emphasise that my outlook still calls for a gradual pace of increases and, as always, the path should depend on incoming economic data."

Wall Street falls
Wall Street traded lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 55.75 points, or 0.6%, to 17,792.75 while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.5% to 4891.80. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index declined 0.6% to 2066.13.

"We've got a Goldilocks market right now – not too hot, not too cold," Len Blum, managing partner of Blum Capital Advisors in New York, told Reuters.

"This is not like a uni-thematic market, where it's really being driven. It's a slow-growth market, in a historically good month, and coming off of good economic indicators."

The Dow fell as slides in shares of Nike and those of General Electric, down 3.1% and 2% respectively, outweighed gains in shares of Pfizer and those of Merck, up 2.1% and 1.7%.

US Treasurys rose, pushing yields on the 10-year note as low as 1.779% compared with 1.793% on Friday. US crude oil prices fell 3% to $US35.70 a barrel, 

Sluggish manufacturing sector
The latest economic data cast fresh doubts on US manufacturing. A Commerce Department report showed new orders for manufactured goods fell 1.7%, following January's downwardly revised 1.2% gain.

"This morning's report suggests a more sluggish manufacturing sector in the early part of the quarter," Jesse Hurwitz, an economist at Barclays in New York, told Reuters.

Shares of Alaska Air Group fell 3.8% after the company said it agreed to buy Virgin America for $US2.6 billion. Virgin America shares soared 42% to $US55.11.

"With our expanded network and strong presence in California, we'll offer customers more attractive flight options for nonstop travel," Brad Tilden, chairman and CEO of Alaska Air Group, said in a statement.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the day with a 0.4% gain from the previous close.

The UK's FTSE 100 Index rose 0.3%, as did Germany's DAX Index, while France's CAC 40 Index advanced 0.5%.


Margreet Dietz
Tue, 05 Apr 2016
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While you were sleeping: UPDATED US stocks ease as investor bide time