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Stocks Slip, Dollar Pares Gain in Policy Whirlwind: Markets Wrap

  • S&P 500 briefly tops closing record as tax overhaul proposed
  • Trump legislative success will be next test for growth agenda

U.S. stocks erased gains to end near session lows, while the dollar pared its advance as investors assessed a whirlwind of policy speculation that whipsawed assets throughout the day.

The S&P 500 Index halted a two-day rally spurred by anticipation President Donald Trump’s plan to overhaul taxes would boost economic growth, as officials left unanswered questions about how the proposal would be paid for. The equity benchmark earlier climbed above its record closing level only to retreat after reports that the administration may end Nafta and the Federal Communications Commission may roll back net-neutrality rules. At the same time, Freedom Caucus members endorsed a plan to repeal Obamacare.

The late-session retreat that also weighed on the dollar and crude halted a rally in risk assets sparked by the French election, corporate earnings reports and the promise of a a major tax overhaul. Attention now will turn to the Trump plan’s prospects in Congress as the White House ratchets up protectionist rhetoric that investors worry could harm global growth.

“The plan that has been announced today is very aggressive, and unlikely to pass as is,” said Alan Gayle, a senior strategist who helps oversee $42 billion in assets at RidgeWorth Investments in Atlanta. “I haven’t heard of anyone on the street that has been adjusting earnings estimates based on the likelihood we’ll get tax reform. This remains an unknown and it’s not being factored into the market yet.”

Read our Markets Live blog here.

Here are some key upcoming events that investors are watching:

  • The Bank of Japan is widely expected to keep the settings on its monetary easing program unchanged at the end of a two-day policy meeting on Thursday. Though inflation remains well below the central bank’s 2 percent target, it’s ticking up.
  • The ECB sets monetary policy later that same day. With officials indicating little chance of a policy change, the focus will be on any signals from President Mario Draghi that the central bank is debating an exit from its extraordinary stimulus.
  • U.S. GDP is due at the end of the week. It’s projected to show the economy expanded at a 1.0 percent annualized rate in the first quarter, the weakest pace in a year.

Here are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 Index fell 0.1 percent to 2,387.45 at 4 p.m. in New York, erasing a gain of more than 0.3 percent in the final 30 minutes of trading. The measure rose as high as 2,398.16, two points from its intraday record.
  • Small caps in the Russell 2000 Index closed at a record as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin outlined proposals that could have an outsize benefit for domestic-leaning companies.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index added 0.5 percent, for a sixth straight advance that’s taken it to the highest level since August 2015.

Currencies 

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index increased 0.3 percent, climbing for a second day after a 0.5 percent drop on Monday. It rose as much as 0.5 percent.
  • The yen was little changed at 111.074 per dollar, after dropping 1.2 percent on Tuesday.
  • The euro lost 0.2 percent to $1.0908, after four straight days of gains.
  • The ruble weakened 1.3 percent after President Vladimir Putin said the government is looking for “market-based measures” to stabilize the currency.

Commodities

  • Gold futures added 0.2 percent to $1,270.80, after dropping 1 percent on Tuesday as investors turn attention to Trump’s agenda to boost U.S. growth.
  • Crude closed higher in New York, adding 6 cents to settle at $49.62 a barrel and halt a six-day selloff on Tuesday. A government report showed U.S. crude stockpiles fell for a third week as refinery demand surged.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell three basis points to 2.30 percent, after climbing for five straight sessions.

— With assistance by Sid Verma, and V Ramakrishnan

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