U.S. stocks rose, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (SPX) at a record, while Treasuries touched the lowest level in three weeks before the European Central Bank’s rate decision tomorrow and a government jobs report on June 6. Copper sank the most in five weeks.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 0.2 percent to a record 1,927.70 at 4 p.m in New York. The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries added one basis point to 2.60 percent. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index closed little changed before the ECB meeting. Copper declined 1.4 percent for the biggest drop in five weeks, while oil reversed an earlier 1 percent gain to fall 0.2 percent.
Service industries in the U.S. expanded in May at the fastest pace in nine months, as investors await government payroll data for signals on the pace of Federal Reserve stimulus cuts. Euro-area economic growth slowed in the first quarter, while services in the region expanded at the strongest pace in almost three years, reports today showed. European Central Bank policy makers meet tomorrow to decide on stimulus and interest rates.
“The market is positioning ahead of the events later this week,” Michael James, a Los Angeles-based managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities Inc., said in a phone interview. “We’re just marking time until we get to the real market-moving decisions, which are going to be from the ECB tomorrow, and the jobs data on Friday.”
The Treasury 10-year note yield has risen 20 basis points since touching 2.4 percent on May 29, the lowest level since June 2013. The notes extended a drop after the Fed said in its Beige Book review of regional economic conditions that the economy expanded at a modest to moderate pace last month. They rose earlier after a private report showed U.S. companies added fewer jobs than forecast in May.
The S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1 percent yesterday, following three days of gains that left the gauge at an all-time high. The measure trades at 16.3 times the projected earnings of its members, up from a multiple of 14.8 at the start of February.
The increase in the Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index indicated improving sales will help the economy strengthen. Data tomorrow will show initial jobless claims rose to 310,000 last week, according to a Bloomberg survey, while reports June 6 will show unemployment rose to 6.4 percent as nonfarm payrolls expanded by 215,000, economists estimate, after jumping 288,000 in April.
“The market certainly seems to be pricing in a strong set of data from the U.S. this week, which puts risk assets in an interesting position,” Stan Shamu, a markets strategist in Melbourne at IG Ltd., wrote in an e-mail to clients. “At the same time we have the European situation, where traders just continue to speculate what action the ECB will take this week.”
The Beige Book, released two weeks before policy makers meet, supports Chair Janet Yellen’s view that the economy is rebounding from a 1 percent contraction in the first quarter caused largely by harsh winter weather. Fed officials are watching the labor market as they move to complete their bond-purchase program late this year and start considering the timing of the first interest-rate increase since 2006.
Central-bank stimulus has helped propel the S&P 500 higher by as much as 185 percent from its bear-market low in March 2009. The index has continued to climb to records even as the U.S. economy contracted for the first time in three years during the first quarter, amid optimism that a recovery is under way.
The records come amid low volume and a narrow trading range. The S&P 500 hasn’t had a move of more than 1 percent at the close for 33 straight days. That’s the longest stretch since December 2006. About 1.8 billion shares traded each day in S&P 500 companies last month, the fewest since 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Among stocks moving today, Protective Life Corp. surged 18 percent after Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co. agreed to buy the insurer for 582.2 billion yen ($5.7 billion). Prudential Financial Inc. and MetLife Inc. led gains in financial stocks. FuelCell Energy Inc. dropped 7.6 percent after saying its loss widened in the second quarter.
“There isn’t a lot of compelling value in many markets and there’s some complacency around valuations,” Tim Schroeders, a Melbourne-based fund manager who helps oversee $1 billion at Pengana Capital Ltd., said by phone. “It’s an interesting juncture for the Fed and risk isn’t being appropriately priced. The market is now not willing to be jawboned about the potential for rate rises.”
Euro-area economic growth slowed to start the year, keeping pressure on the ECB to act to spur the fragile recovery and spark prices.
German 10-year yields rose three basis points to 1.43 percent. The rate on similar-maturity Italian debt added one basis point to 3.1 percent.
“People are pretty much in wait-and-see mode ahead of the ECB and the payroll number,” Walter Todd, who oversees about $980 million as chief investment officer at Greenwood Capital Associates LLC, said by phone. “If we don’t get the action people are expecting out of the ECB tomorrow, that could be a pretty negative catalyst.”
ECB President Mario Draghi has signaled he will act to prevent deflation in the 18-nation bloc. Of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, 44 predict the ECB will become the first major central bank to take interest rates negative by cutting its deposit rate. All but two of 58 respondents said the benchmark rate would also be reduced.
The MSCI Emerging Market Index slipped 0.5 percent after two days of gains, trimming its advance this year to 2.8 percent. Chinese stocks posted the longest streak of losses since April 28 as falling home prices overshadowed gains in manufacturing indexes and government plans to cut reserve requirements for some lenders.
Copper for delivery in July settled at $3.093 a pound on the Comex in New York, the biggest slump since April 30. Aluminum, zinc, nickel, lead and tin slid in London.
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