U.S. Stocks Decline as Auto Sales Trail Estimates: Markets Wrap

Updated on
  • Auto retailers are worst performing industry group in S&P 500
  • Rand plummets after S&P cuts South Africa rating to junk

What to Expect From Trump, Xi Florida Meeting

Stocks fell Monday after auto manufacturers reported worse-than-expected U.S. sales for March.

The S&P 500 Index finished down 0.16 percent at 2,358.84, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.06 percent to 20,637.02. Auto retailers, auto manufacturers and auto parts and equipment makers were among the worst performing industry groups in the S&P 500. Ford Motor Co. dropped 1.72 percent, General Motors Co. declined 3.37 percent and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV lost 4.76 percent.

“Sales are under forecast and there were a lot of incentives during the month,” Michelle Krebs, an analyst with Autotrader.com, said in an interview. “Before long, we will see more production cuts.”

South Africa’s rand slumped for a sixth day after Standard & Poor’s cut the country’s currency rating to junk. Last week, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was dismissed in a political shake-up. The currency plummeted 2.4 percent on the news.

As the second quarter gets going, political developments threaten to cloud the improving global economic outlook. This week, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release the minutes of its previous meeting and the non-farm payrolls report is due. Earlier Monday, the Institute for Supply Management released data showing that factories continued to expand production at a robust pace in March.

“Bottom line, this is another sentiment indicator that is bullish on growth but again it just reflects the direction of change, not the degree,” Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, wrote in a note Monday.

Read our Markets Live blog here.

What investors will be watching this week:

  • Fed speakers include William Dudley, president of the New York Fed, and Governor Daniel Tarullo. Minutes from the March meeting, which are scheduled to be released April 5, should put their recent public comments into perspective. Minutes are also due from the European Central Bank’s latest gathering.
  • China’s President Xi Jinping will meet U.S. President Donald Trump for two days starting April 6. 
  • The Reserve Bank of Australia is projected to keep rates steady Tuesday. 
  • India’s central bank also will probably hold rates firm. Inflation numbers are due from Thailand, South Korea and the Philippines.
  • U.S. non-farm payrolls are due April 7.

Here are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The Nasdaq 100 Index dropped 0.07 percent and the Russell 2000 Index lost 1.17 percent.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.49 percent, after rising 5.5 percent for the first three months of the year, the best quarter in two years.
  • The MSCI All Country World Index was down roughly 0.5 percent.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index gained 0.03 percent.
  • Britain’s pound fell 0.55 percent to $1.2480 after the worse-than-expected manufacturing data, and the euro advanced 0.19 percent to $1.0672.
  • The Russian ruble retreated 0.16 percent to 56.17 versus the dollar. About 10 people were killed and dozens more were injured after a subway bomb exploded in St. Petersburg.

Bonds

  • Yields on 10-year Treasuries were down more than 5 basis points to 2.3354 percent.
  • U.K. notes fell 4 basis points.
  • German Bunds were lower by 3 basis points.

Commodities

  • WTI crude dropped 0.69 percent to $50.25 a barrel. Crude stockpiles are starting to decline in a sign that the production cuts implemented this year are bringing the market to balance, according to OPEC’s Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo.
  • Gold gained 0.3 percent to $1,254.90 per ounce. The metal has alternated between gains and losses for the past six days.

— With assistance by David Goodman, Sid Verma, Robert Brand, Eddie Van Der Walt, Julie Verhage, Jamie Butters, and David Welch

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