Another mixed batch of economic reports underscored investors' concerns over the timing of the Federal Reserve's inevitable curtailment of its monthly purchases of $85 billion in long-term securities. The Fed has kept the short-term federal funds rate in a range of zero to 0.25% since late 2008. The central bank's bond buying is meant to keep the squeeze on the rate curve, by holding long-term rates down.
The market had been anticipating a slowing of the Federal Reserve's balance sheet expansion, sending the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds up by 44 basis points from the end of April to Tuesday, when the market yield was 2.14%. Investors on Wednesday pushed the yield on the 10-year down to roughly 2.11%.
The broad indices all ended with declines of over 1%. The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) was down 2% to close at 59.95, with all 24 index components showing declines.Big banks with stocks showing 2% declines included Goldman Sachs (GS), with shares closing at $158.30; Citigroup (C), closing at $50.03; Bank of America (BAC), at $13.09; Capital One (COF), at $60.19; JPMorgan Chase (JPM), at $53.03; and State Street (STT), which closed at $64.88.
Mixed Economic ReportsThe ADP private payroll employment for May showed U.S. private sector employment rose by 135,000 in May, which was quite an improvement from a downwardly revised 113,000 increase for April. Still, the May number was significantly below the average estimate of 165,000 among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. ADP said "a gain of 5,000 jobs in the construction industry during May was offset by a decline of 6,000 lost jobs in the manufacturing industry," which fits in with a weak set of recent manufacturing reports. The Census Bureau on Wednesday reported that factory orders rose by 1% during April, after a 4.7% decline during March. Economists had expected factory orders to increase by 1.5% in April. On a more positive note, the composite index from the ISM non-manufacturing survey showed an increase to 53.7 in May from 53.1 in April. A figure above 50 indicates expansion. The May number came in ahead of an expected reading of 53.5 among economists.
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