Stocks little changed; S&P streak intact
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks ended little changed Thursday, with the S&P 500 clinging to a slight gain to maintain its longest winning run since March, after U.S. data proved better than expected.
"Earnings season for the most part is behind us, and like the rest of America, you've got Congress on vacation, the European Central Bank on vacation and the Fed doesn't meet until September," said Art Hogan, equity strategist at Lazard Capital Markets, of Wall Street's lack of momentum
"The underlying bid in this market is consensus agreement that we're going to get more, not less, global monetary stimulus," Hogan added of equities rise, which has the S&P 500 Index in position to extend its rise into a fifth session.
"The markets are looking for some kind of quantitative easing from the central bank in Europe," echoed Randy Warren, chief investment officer of Warren Financial Service.
After a four-day climb, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) fell 10.45 points, or less than 0.1%, to 13,165.19.
Rising for a fifth session, the S&P 500 (SPX) rose 0.58 point to 1,402.80, with natural-resource and energy pacing sector gains and consumer staples and consumer discretionary the laggards.
"We're in a tug of war with technicians; by the time the S&P 500 gets to 1,400, that's the iron curtain and we can't break through," commented Lazard's Hogan.
The Nasdaq Composite Index (COMP) rose 7.39 points, or 0.3%, at 3,018.64.
Advancers edged just ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where composite volume neared 3.1 billion. The Nasdaq's composite volume approached 1.7 billion.
Treasury prices were mostly lower, with the yield on the 10-year note (10_YEAR) used to determine rates on mortgages and other consumer loans at 1.699%.
Equities briefly took a hit, with the Dow falling 50 points, in a modest rollover that Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak, said coincided with the euro (EURUSD) dropping below 1.23.
The euro's move came after The Wall Street Journal quoted former European Central Bank executive board member Otmar Issing as saying "Germany's guilt over the Second World War doesn't oblige it to write blank checks to euro-zone countries that fail to reform their economies."
"Who knows what influence Issing still has, but the timing of his comments were similar to the further weakness in the euro," added Boockvar.
The U.S. Federal Reserve should do a third round of quantitative easing, Warren believes, because an overly strong currency hurts U.S. exports. Plus, money printing by the Fed cheapens the dollar and "stops the euro from falling so much," he said.
The Commerce Department on Thursday reported the U.S. trade deficit narrowed by 10.7% in June, with the number expected to boost second-quarter gross domestic product. Read full piece on narrowing gap.
"Positively and in the face of European concerns, exports rose to a record high," said Boockvar at Miller Tabak, who specifically noted increased exports to the European Union, a trend that he viewed as unlikely to be sustainable.
Warren at Warren Financial Service finds interesting that the U.S. trade deficit could be improving, considering the currency movement between the euro and the dollar.
"Probably the answer behind it is oil is cheaper. We are net exporters of finished petroleum products; that flipped in November for the first time since World War II. We still do import a lot of oil, but we're producing a lot more than in the past."
The Labor Department reported that initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 6,000 at 361,00 last week. See full story on unexpected decline in initial claims.