Monday March 14th


Stocks slightly lower; energy weighs

U.S. stocks traded lower Monday, after a four-week win streak, as a decline in oil prices weighed. Energy traded more than half a percent lower as the greatest S&P 500 decliner, while utilities attempted gains as the only advancer. No major economic data is expected Monday ahead of the highly anticipated Fed meeting statement and press conference due Wednesday. "I guess with oil down we're taking a little breather here," said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group. "I think this week is really going to be determined by the Fed," he said. Oil traded lower, with WTI off more than 3 percent near $37.30 a barrel as of 9:38 a.m. ET. Iran Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said the country would join discussions among other producers about a possible oil production freeze after its own output reached four million barrels per day, according to a Reuters article citing Iran's ISNA news agency. Treasury yields held lower, with the 2-year yield near 0.96 percent and the 10-year yield at 1.96 percent. The U.S. dollar index held slightly higher, with the euro at $1.1108 and the yen at 113.65 yen against the greenback. The major U.S. averages closed sharply higher Friday, with the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average both topping their 200-day moving averages. A rise in oil prices and a more positive view of Thursday's European Central Bank stimulus announcements helped U.S. stocks post their first four-week win streak since November. European stocks traded higher Monday morning ET, but off session highs as declines in oil weighed. Asian equities closed higher, with the Nikkei 225 and Shanghai composite both up more than 1.7 percent. Both China's central bank governor and new securities regulator spoke over the weekend. The People's Bank of China won't resort to excessive stimulus to bolster growth but will keep a flexible stance in the event of an economic shock — domestic or global, Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said, while reiterating the authority's prudent monetary policy, Reuters reported. China will not reintroduce the circuit breaker mechanism to its stock markets in the next few years, Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission said in a Reuters report. In morning trade, the Dow Jones industrial average declined 23 points, or 0.13 percent, at 17,190, with Chevron the greatest decliner and McDonald's leading advancers. The S&P 500 declined 4 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,017, with energy leading eight sectors lower and utilities and telecommunications the only gainers. The Nasdaq composite declined 13 points, or 0.27 percent, to 4,735. About two stocks declined for every advancer on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 48 million and a composite volume of 110 million. Gold rose on Monday as the previous session's near 2 percent loss tempted some price-sensitive buyers back to the market, but moves were muted ahead of closely watched policy meetings of the U.S. and Japanese central banks this week. The metal, which is highly sensitive to monetary policy and resulting currency moves, bounced to a 13-month high on Friday after the European Central Bank signalled an end to rate cuts, pushing the euro sharply higher versus the dollar. It later fell back to post its biggest one-day loss in nearly a month, but has since rebounded as uncertainty ahead of this week's central bank meetings sharpened appetite for the metal as a haven from risk. Spot gold was up 0.64 percent at $1,256.06 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures for April delivery were down $2.20 an ounce at $1,257.20.