The broad S&P 500 Index of large-cap stocks declined 0.44% to 2,777.34. Eight of 11 primary sectors headed lower, with energy shares plunging 1.2% on average. Energy stock fell in lockstep with oil prices after the U.S. Energy and Information Administration (EIA) reported a much bigger than expected rise in commercial crude inventories.
Hacked.com has the latest: Oil Prices Slip as U.S. Crude Inventories Surge.
Health stocks were also down more than 1%. Consumer staples fell 0.3% as a category.
The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index was also down Wednesday, falling 0.72% to 7,521.77.
A measure of implied volatility known as the CBOE VIX rose 4% to 15.33, still below the historic average but well above the recent five-month low. VIX trades inversely with the S&P 500 Index roughly three-quarters of the time.
Trump Eyes China Trade Deal
China and the United States are in the final stages of a comprehensive trade agreement, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. According to the latest conversations, both countries could remove some tariffs imposed last year provided that other conditions are met.
Washington is prepared to remove almost all sanctions against China if Beijing agrees to change its industrial policy, which the Trump administration says gives domestic firms an unfair advantage over their American counterparts.
Intellectual property protection for American businesses is also a major sticking point. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said last week that provisions on intellectual property accounted for nearly a third of the 100-page working document that is guiding trade talks between the two countries.
A comprehensive trade deal would be a home run for the Trump administration, which is hoping to rekindle investor optimism following a disastrous fourth quarter for Wall Street. At this stage, a trade deal is the market’s best shot of returning to record highs. That’s because U.S. corporations will likely face a profit crunch in the first quarter.
Attention now shifts to jobs data, with the Labor Department scheduled to release its February nonfarm payrolls report on Friday. Employers are forecast to have added 178,000 workers last month. Unemployment is also projected to tick lower, likely as a result of workforce dropouts.
About The Author
Chief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world’s leading newscasts, including Barron’s, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi.