Markets snapped their winning streak and ended the week down slightly as investors decided to take some profits off the table. The light economic calendar led to sluggish activity since investors were reluctant to commit to positions without new data to bolster their analysis. For the week, the S&P 500 lost 0.68%, the Dow fell 0.88%, and the Nasdaq slid 0.25%.
Geopolitics took center stage last week when Iraqi insurgents captured Mosul and Tikrit, major cities in northern Iraq, and advanced toward Baghdad. In response to the threat, the U.S. moved a carrier group into the Persian Gulf to support the government in Baghdad. Analysts are worried about how instability in Iraq might affect global oil markets. U.S. crude oil rose to nearly $105/barrel on the new security fears. Iraq is an important Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) producer and disruptions in regional supplies could send oil prices through the roof and throttle consumer spending.
In Ukraine, the ongoing conflict escalated when well-armed pro-Russia separatists shot down a Ukrainian military plane. Russia and Ukraine have been caught in a standoff since March, when Russia annexed Crimea. European leaders spoke with Ukrainian and Russian officials about the incident, stressing the need for a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine and a return to stability. EU countries rely on natural gas supplies that pass through Ukraine, and interruptions could cause price spikes and temper much-needed economic growth in Europe.
On the economic front, last week’s data was mixed. Weekly jobless claims increased slightly, but the overall trend is still heading in the right direction, giving economists hope that businesses will step up hiring this quarter. However, the latest consumer sentiment numbers show that lower-income Americans are worried about wages and economic growth even as higher-income consumers are staying upbeat about their prospects. This split in attitudes could spell trouble for the economy if low-income Americans become reluctant to spend.
The week ahead is packed with economic events, including the June Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, which concludes Wednesday. Analysts don’t expect any surprises from the Fed, which has been taking pains to present an image of slow, predictable change in order to avoid spooking investors. However, analysts are hoping for more guidance about future interest rate increases as well as Fed economic projections, which will forecast Gross Domestic Product (GDP), unemployment, and inflation.
Monday: Empire State Mfg. Survey, Treasury International Capital, Industrial Production, Housing Market Index
Tuesday: Consumer Price Index, Housing Starts
Wednesday: EIA Petroleum Status Report, FOMC Meeting Announcement, FOMC Forecasts, Chair Press Conference 2:30pm
Thursday: Jobless Claims, Philadelphia Fed Survey
Detroit bond settlement reached. Bankruptcy court mediators announced that a settlement had been reached between the City of Detroit and bondholders over the treatment of unsecured general obligation bonds. Although final details have not been released, it is likely that bondholders will receive only a percentage of their principal, though bond insurers may make up some of the difference.
Retail sales growth less than expected. Though consumers spent more on retail goods for the fourth straight month in May, sales growth was slower than forecasted. This trend may mean that consumers will be less likely to increase their spending later this year.