US open: Stocks on the back foot ahead of Presidents Day

Maryam Cockar Sharecast | 17 Feb, 2017 16:07 | | |

New York Stock Exchange, NYSE, markets, Wall Street. Photo: Herval

US stocks were on the back foot on Friday after Wall Street’s seven-day winning streak came to an end in the previous session as investors took a breather ahead of Presidents Day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.3% to 20,558.78, the Nasdaq was flat at 5,813..90 and the S&P 500 was down 0.2% to 2,342.50 at 1602 GMT.

Financial markets will be closed for Presidents Day on Monday. The currency market will not be affected but volumes could be below average.

On Thursday, stocks ended mixed in a tight range after President Donald Trump said during a press conference that tax reform proposals would come only after a push to replace Obamacare in March. He also said in the conference that he had inherited a “mess” from former President Barack Obama.

Jasper Lawler, senior market analyst at London Capital Group, said: “Markets underwhelmed for a second day with multiple global benchmarks pulling back from record highs. The declines have been light so there’s no justification for alarm."

“After a five-day winning streak markets are looking a bit tired. If there were to have been any catalyst for the resumption of risk-taking, it wasn’t to be found in President Donald Trump’s press (bashing) conference.”

Meanwhile, oil prices retreated with West Texas Intermediate down 0.22% to $553.24 per barrel and Brent crude 0.18% weaker to $55.55.

In currency markets, the dollar was up 0.52% against the pound to 0.8049 and rose 0.43% versus the euro to 0.9409 but was down 0.26% against the yen to 112.95.

On the corporate front, shares in Kraft Heinz surged 8.58% after its proposed to merge with British consumer products giant Unilever. The $143bn takeover bid was rejected by Unilever saying that it has no financial or strategic merit, according to Reuters, although talks are ongoing.

Deere & Co fell 1.03% despite quarterly profit and revenue beat forecasts and raised it forecasts.

JM Smucker Co slumped 4.19% after reporting a fall in third quarter sales and giving a downbeat 2017 outlook.

Campbell Soup dipped 5.08% after second quarter profit missed expectations, although earnings beat forecasts.

UnitedHealth Group was down 4.16% after the US Justice Department said it would sue the company for allegedly overcharging Medicare millions of dollars

WebMD Health Corp shares were suspended late on Thursday after the company said it may put itself up for sale.

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