U.S. stocks wavered for the holiday-shortened week as Wall Street pondered over a batch of global economic and political events.
On Monday, U.S. stocks were closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.
On Tuesday, U.S. stocks ended lower after wavering in a tight range, as investors meditated on comments from British Prime Minister Theresa May on Brexit.
On Wednesday, U.S. stocks closed mixed as investors digested remarks from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as well as a batch of economic data.
On Thursday, U.S. stocks reversed early gains to end lower after the European Central Bank (ECB) decided to keep its key interest rates unchanged.
On Friday, U.S. stocks rebounded amid President Donald Trump’s inauguration speech and a string of earnings reports.
Trump’s inauguration was in the spotlight during the week. He was sworn in on Friday as the 45th president of the United States.
In his inauguration address, Trump pledged to put “America first,” reigniting some worries of protectionist policies. But he did not touch on specific economic or trade policies.
U.S. stocks posted solid gains after Trump won the presidency election as investors bet that he would pursue massive corporate tax cuts, deregulation, and infrastructure spending.
Yellen said Wednesday afternoon that the U.S. economy is closing in on the central bank’s goals, giving it impetus to start reducing the extreme levels of support it has provided over the past decade.
“Right now our foot is still pressing on the gas pedal, though, as I noted, we have eased back a bit,” Yellen said.
Overseas, May said Tuesday in her toughest ever speech that Britain will leave the European single market, restrict access to the country by EU citizens and end the jurisdiction in Britain of the European Court of Justice.
She added, however, the U.K. government will put the Brexit deal it agrees with the European Union to a parliamentary vote.
Analysts said that May’s speech was expected to be catastrophic, but she has managed the expectations and delivered the speech very well.
Meanwhile, at Thursday’s meeting the Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00 percent, 0.25 percent and -0.40 percent respectively.
On the economic front, according to the Fed’s Beige Book, reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that the economy continued to expand at a modest pace across most regions from late November through the end of the year.
U.S. privately-owned housing starts in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,226,000, beating market consensus.
In the week ending Jan. 14, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 234,000, a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The 4-week moving average was 246,750, a decrease of 10,250 from the previous week’s revised average. This is the lowest level for this average since Nov. 3, 1973 when it was 244,000.
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all urban consumers increased 0.3 percent in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, in line with market consensus.
U.S. industrial production rose 0.8 percent in December after falling 0.7 percent in November, the Fed said Wednesday.
U.S. builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes remained on firm ground in January, down two points to a level of 67 from a downwardly revised December reading of 69 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index.
For the week, all three major indices witnessed modest losses, with the Dow, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq going down 0.3 percent, 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively. Enditem.