The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday closed at the lowest level in a week, as worries about the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington outweighed data suggesting economic growth remains resilient, while yields on Treasury bills maturing between early and mid-June climbed toward 6% on Tuesday.
How stocks traded
On Monday, the Dow fell 140 points, or 0.42%, to 33287, the S&P 500 increased 1 points, or 0.02%, to 4193, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 63 points, or 0.5%, to 12721.
What drove markets
Stocks fell Tuesday as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reportedly told Republicans that debt-limit talks still have some distance to go, according to a report by Bloomberg.
McCarthy also told Republicans that the White House and the Congress are “not anywhere near close” to a deal, according to Bloomberg citing Republican Representative Ralph Norman and another person who was in the room.
President Joe Biden and McCarthy on Monday failed to reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling, while they struck a somewhat upbeat tone. More talks are planned.
On Monday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reiterated that the U.S. won’t be able to pay all its bills by early June, and as soon as June 1, if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling. One think tank’s projections Tuesday said the “X-Date” could arrive on June 2
“The debt ceiling seems to be the only market driver,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.
Stresses have been building in government bond markets, pushing up short-term yields and the price of debt insurance, as traders express concern about the impact on markets should Yellen’s feared scenario come to pass.
The yield on the six-month Treasury bill went up Tuesday to as high as 5.41%, marking the highest level since 2000. Yields on Treasury bills maturing between early and mid-June rose toward 6% on Tuesday.
Treasury traders are pricing a potential default of U.S. government debt, hawkish comments from Federal Reserve officials, and a possible recession, noted Rajeev Sharma, managing director of fixed income investments at Key Private Bank.
At the same time, the economy keeps growing as inflation slowly cools though recession fears are still prevalent.
The S&P Flash U.S. services-sector index hit a 13-month high, up 55.1 in May from 53.6 in April. The S&P U.S. manufacturing sector index, meanwhile, slipped to 51 from 52.4, though it was still higher than Wall Street forecasters predicted.
New home sales climbed 4.1%, according to the Commerce Department. The 683,000 annual rate of sales in April beat expectations for 669,000.
“The market is bending but it hasn’t broke. That’s good to the updside,” said Ken Mahoney, president and CEO of Mahoney Asset Management. “If you are a bear, you’ve got be very frustrated.”
Mahoney thinks a debt ceiling deal will ultimately come in Congress and the Federal Reserve might pause its interest rate hikes at the upcoming June meeting. By and large, the first quarter earnings reporting season was rosier than some expected – and then there’s the real opportunities that lay ahead for companies using AI, he noted.