Stocks traded lower Thursday in a cautious session with investors hoping a Federal Reserve symposium sheds some light on the central bank’s plans for tapering stimulus.
The Pentagon confirmed two explosions near the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. The blasts caused a number of civilian casualties including Americans. Four U.S. marines were among the dead.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 66 points, or 0.28%, to 35,307, the S&P 500 declined 0.46% and the Nasdaq dropped 0.47%.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury rose Thursday to 1.359%.
The Nasdaq and S&P 500 closed at record highs for a second straight day on Wednesday as investors awaited the start of the Federal Reserve gathering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is scheduled to make a speech Friday at the retreat. Many investors believe the Fed chief won’t make waves by announcing a timeline on tapering since the highly contagious delta virus strain has become a major risk to an economic recovery in the U.S. and the world.
Officials at the Federal Reserve have split on the timing for the central bank to begin paring back on its $120 billion a month of asset purchases. Some have said they believe it would be appropriate for the central bank to begin tapering asset purchases this year, while others said they preferred to wait for more solid economic data, especially on employment.
Kansas City Fed President Esther George told CNBC the economy has reached the point where the central bank can begin pulling back on economic stimulus.
“That I think is appropriate given the progress we’ve seen,” George told CNBC. “It doesn’t mean that we will move all the way to neutral or tighter policy, but I think it’s a first step. Signs in the economy right now are showing that we’re reaching that point.”
Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said he would be pushing for the Fed to announce a pullback in stimulus in September with tapering to begin in either October or November.
Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance, said Powell likely will “keep all of his options open” by not hinting at a taper timeline. Therefore, eyes will be turning to the jobs report for August, which will be released Sept. 3, Zaccarelli said.
The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose by 4,000 last week to 353,000. It’s the first time in five weeks that jobless claims have risen though they remain near pandemic lows.
Second-quarter gross domestic product, meanwhile, was estimated to have risen 6.6%, up slightly from the Commerce Department’s first estimate of a 6.5% annual increase.
Oil prices fell for the first day in four despite data from the Energy Department Wednesday that showed another decline in domestic crude stocks. Investors trimmed bets on energy demand amid the ongoing rise in coronavirus infections in major economies around the world.
Sales of Salesforce.com were rising Thursday after the business-software provider, which has benefited from the increased emphasis on cloud-computing during the pandemic, raised its revenue guidance for the third quarter and full year.
This article was originally published by TheStreet.