Stocks fluctuated on Thursday as investors assessed weaker-than-anticipated manufacturing data and less dovish rhetoric from Federal Bank policymakers. The Dow advanced 49 points, while the S&P 500 swung between small gains and losses before finishing with a 0.1% decline. The Nasdaq Composite lost 0.4%.
Market participants weighed the preliminary U.S. manufacturing PMI report from research firm IHS Markit. The index came in at 49.9 in August, signaling activity in the sector contracted for the first time since September 2009. Central bank speakers also garnered attention. Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, Kansas City Fed President Esther George and Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan all shared reservations about cutting rates again in September during the first day of the Fed’s annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Fed Chair Jerome Powell will deliver his highly anticipated speech at the symposium tomorrow, with investors looking for clarification on his mid-cycle adjustment comments. Following the updates, the yield curve between the 10- and 2-year notes inverted for the third time in two weeks. Treasuries weakened, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note adding two basis points to 1.61%, while the two-year note yield rose to the same level.
Six of 11 S&P 500 sectors finished in negative territory. Energy stocks were a notable decliner, as WTI crude fell 0.5% to $55.39. Financials outperformed amid a rise in Treasury yields. In earnings, DICK’S Sporting Goods jumped 3.6% after surpassing analysts’ earnings and revenue forecasts. Hormel Foods gained 4.8% following an in-line quarter. Nordstrom’s surged 15.9% after beating analyst earnings estimates, citing strong inventory and expense discipline.