Dow Finishes Strong Even as Weak Economic Growth Roils Stock Market

Journalist:
March 28, 2019

By CCN.com: The Dow and broader U.S. stock market pulled ahead Thursday afternoon, but not before a series of volatile swings threatened to unwind three months of runaway growth. A weakening domestic economy and turmoil on the U.S.-China trade front were the main factors weighing on investors’ sentiment.

Dow Ends on a High Note; S&P 500, Nasdaq Follow

All of Wall Street’s major indexes reported gains Thursday afternoon, but not before initial turbulence. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 91.87 points, or 0.4%, at 25,717.47. The blue-chip index fluctuated within a 167-point range, reflecting a tepid pre-market for Dow futures.

Among the Dow‘s 30 index members, Nike Inc. (NKE) was the top performer, gaining 1.2%. Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) rallied 1.1%.

The broad S&P 500 Index of large-cap stocks gained 0.4% to 2,815.44 after briefly trading below 2,800 earlier. Hacked.com explains why that’s a big deal: Does this Chart Spell Doom for the S&P 500 Index?

A majority of the S&P 500’s 11 primary sectors traded higher, led by a 1% increase for materials stocks. Industrials and financials each reported gains of 0.8%.

The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.3% to 7,669.17.

U.S. Economy Portends Future Weakness

The Dow and wider US stock market must grapple with bearish economic data, which shows that GDP grew more slowly than initially reported last quarter. | Source: AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI

The U.S. economy slowed more than previously reported last quarter, sending a strong signal that the Trump-inspired recovery was losing momentum.

Gross domestic product (GDP), the value of all goods and services produced in the economy, expanded at an annual rate of 2.2% in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday in a revised estimate. That’s well below the preliminary reading, which showed fourth-quarter growth at 2.6% year-over-year.

The downward revision was largely attributed to a slowdown in spending by consumers, businesses, and local governments. It was the second consecutive quarter of weaker expansion after President Trump’s tax cuts produced an annual growth rate of 4.2% in Q2 2018.

Although the U.S. economy is nowhere near recession levels, activity in the bond markets suggests investors are already planning for the worst. On Friday, a closely-watched yield curve inverted for the first time since 2007, a move that economists say accurately foretells recession.

In other data, U.S. initial jobless claims fell by 5,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 211,000, the Labor Department said. Analysts had called for a modest uptick to 225,000.

Last modified (UTC): March 28, 2019 16:13

Sam Bourgi @hsbourgi

Financial Editor to CCN Markets, 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. Sam is based in Ontario, Canada and can be contacted at sam.bourgi@ccn.com