Nasdaq Recovers as Biotech Weighs, Broader Averages Rise


The broader averages ended the session solidly in positive territory while the Nasdaq eeked out a gain as biotechs weighed on the tech-heavy average.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 125 points higher, or 0.77% to 16510. The S&P 500 added 8 points, or 0.46% to 1967, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 1 point, or 0.04% to 4828.

Energy and consumer staples led nine of ten S&P 500 sectors in positive territory, while health care declined.

Today’s Markets

Wall Street regained a bit of its momentum lost at the end of last week, though biotech shares weighed on the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

Comments from presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were cited as the reason for the sudden decline in the health-care sector, which shed 1.27% in recent action. Clinton criticized “price gouging” among pharmaceutical companies and vowed to lay out a plan on Tuesday to fight the practice. The Nasdaq biotech index shed 4.41%.

Meanwhile, the broader averages regained a bit of momentum lost at the end of last week, which forced the Dow and S&P 500 to cap the week in negative territory, as investors looked to life after September rate-hike speculation.

On Thursday last week, the Federal Reserve opted to keep short-term interest rates unchanged at historic lows of near-zero. Now the speculation moves from whether the Fed will hike this month, to whether the central bank will begin to raise rates at all this year.

The first post-September meeting speaker, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, took the podium at the Buckhead Rotary Club on Monday. In prepared remarks, Lockhart said that recent market volatility as a result of worries over China’s economic growth, are a “modest risk” to the U.S. He added that market volatility could be “a symptom of more fundamental ills,” though tis’ too early to identify any real impact to the domestic economy just yet.

Lockhart concluded by saying he is “confident the much-used phrase ‘later this year’ is still operative” when identifying when the Federal Reserve is likely to begin raising short-term rates.

Chris Beauchamp, senior market analyst at IG, said in a note, with only existing home-sales data on the U.S. economic calendar Monday, action was mostly driven by the Fed decision.

“With little fresh news over the weekend to drive trade, what we are seeing…is a rebalancing of positions as shorts take profits from Friday’s big downward move and brave buyers step in once again,” he said.

The National Association of Realtors’ latest report on sales of existing single-family homes showed a 4.8% drop in August. Home sales fell to an annualized rate of 5.31 million units during the month, far below Wall Street forecasts for a shallower drop to 5.51 million units.

Looking ahead this week, Wall Street traders will also get the latest reading on durable goods orders, new home sales, consumer sentiment, and the final reading on second-quarter gross domestic product.

“The week will get busier once PMIs from China, the eurozone and the U.S. are out, and then the real test of bullish sentiment will be seen. Overall, Janet Yellen’s caution is still the thing that weighs most heavily on everyone’s minds,” Beauchamp said.

Elsewhere in the market, crude oil prices jumped Monday after data showed drillers in America cut the number of rigs in operation for the third week in a row .U.S. crude was up 4.48% to $46.68 a barrel, while Brent, the international benchmark rose 3.05% to $48.92 a barrel.

Analysts at Barclays call recent price action in the oil patch the “great compression” resulting from a changing North-American landscape, less oil availability in the Atlantic Basin, and global-growth concerns.

“The North American oil market is being affected by several themes including reduced light oil output and light oil processing capacity expansions…recent data out of the EIA have shown that U.S. oil production has begun to decline, and we expect this trend to continue in the current price environment,” analysts wrote in a note Monday.

Meanwhile, gold prices continued to edge lower, trading down 0.49% to $1,132 a troy ounce, while silver rose 0.28% to $15.21 an ounce. Copper traded up 0.13% to $2.39 a pound.

“The dovish FOMC meeting with increased uncertainty is bullish on gold in the short term,” Barclays analysts wrote. “Currently, gold lacks price support from the physical supply side as FX moves in producer countries are likely to have pushed the marginal cash cost below $1,000/oz. With a major demand story also missing, we think gold should continue to trade around Fed rate expectations.”

Global markets were mixed on the first trading day of the week as investors continue to reposition after the Fed’s Thursday announcement.

In European markets, the Euro Stoxx 50, which tracks large-cap companies in the eurozone rose 0.87%. The French CAC 40 added 1.09%, while the German Dax tacked on 0.33% and the UK’s FTSE 100 gained 0.08%.

In Athens, Greece, shares declined 0.58% after former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s party, Syriza, won reelection amid low voter turnout after the PM stepped down from his post and announced snap elections following the summer’s dramatic debt discussions that resulted in more austerity.

In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite Index jumped 1.89%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng declined 0.75% and Japan’s Nikkei slid 1.96%.

The U.S. dollar traded higher against a handful of global currencies, while the euro declined 0.93% against the greenback. The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury bond rose 0.073% percentage point to 2.205%.