Your Money, Your Retirement, and the 2016 Presidential Election - What changes will you need to make to your portfolio should Hillary Clinton become president? What happens to your investments should Donald Trump become president? Join us on Sept. 12 as our panel of the world's top financial experts provide trusted information on the investment risks and opportunities that arise with the upcoming presidential election in November. (Learn more about the event and RSVP).
Worries over the Federal Reserve's rate hike plans culminated in a massive selloff Friday to cap off the holiday-shortened week.
Over the past four days, the S&P 500 has fallen 2.39%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has declined 2.20%, and the Nasdaq has decreased 2.36%.
Speculation over interest rate hikes have roiled markets for weeks with weaker data undermining confidence in the economy even as Fed members turn increasingly hawkish.
Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren on Friday was the latest member to back a rate hike sooner than later. Rosengren, a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, said that the risks to the U.S. economy have diminished and that there are concerns of "growing imbalances in some asset classes" if the Fed does not step in to normalize rates.
Fed Gov. Daniel Tarullo, also a voting member of the FOMC, added to the uncertainty on Friday after noting he needs to see more signs of steady inflation before he would vote for a hike. Speaking with CNBC, Tarullo said the U.S. is "not running a hot economy." However, he did not rule out a hike this year.
"It looks like the case for a rate increase is going to be strong in September," Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker told reporters after a congressional hearing in Washington, on Wednesday. Lacker noted that a strong labor market could encourage the Fed to act when members meet in two weeks. Kansas City Fed President Esther George, a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, also commented that the labor market is nearing full strength.
The Fed's "Beige Book," out Wednesday, added to the debate over a rate hike timeline. The report reiterated a "modest pace of growth" in the U.S., just as it did in the previous release out in mid-July. The anecdotal read on the 12 Fed districts also found that labor markets had continued to tighten, even with "fairly modest" wage pressures, and that energy markets had seen signs of stabilization.
A boost in rates in September currently has a 27% likelihood, according to CME Group fed funds futures, far higher than a 15% chance earlier in the week. The majority of investors are banking on a December rate hike. Chances of a move during the Fed's final meeting of the year sit at 46%.
Crude oil prices swung wildly over the week, gaining more than 4% on Thursday before slumping more than 2% on Friday. Domestic supplies moved markets with the number of active oil rigs in the U.S. increasing in the past week and oil inventories declining.
Thursday's rally in oil was inspired by a steep and unexpected decline in domestic inventories. The amount of crude stored in U.S. inventories declined by 14.5 million barrels over the past week, the biggest weekly decline since 1999 and far better than an expected increase of 200,000 barrels.
Prices have also been in flux in recent days on speculation over a production freeze agreement from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries when members meet later this month. Major producers Russia and Saudi Arabia have shown a willingness to discuss a possible arrangement. An informal meeting will take place in Algeria at the end of the month.
In earnings news, Restoration Hardware (RH - Get Report) reported a better-than-expected second quarter, though continued to contend with weaker sales and production issues over the three-month period. Fellow homewares retailer Pier 1 Imports (PIR - Get Report) reported a wider-than-expected loss in its second quarter and announcing that CEO Alex Smith will step down from the position, effective the end of the year.
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE - Get Report) reported a mixed quarter. Third-quarter profit of 49 cents a share beat estimates by 4 cents. Meanwhile, sales fell 7% to $12.2 billion, coming in short by $440 million.
Separately, the tech company announced plans to spin off its software assets and merge them with Micro Focus in a deal worth $8.8 billion. The spinoff pares down Hewlett's operations to focus on its data centers and cloud storage.It was a busy week for deals news. Intel ( INTC - Get Report) announced it will spin off its cybersecurity unit in a deal with private-equity firm TPG. In exchange for a $1.1 billion equity investment, TPG will receive a 51% stake in the business, which Intel will spin off under the name McAfee. Intel also acquired semiconductor startup Movidius for an undisclosed amount this week.
Bill Ackman's Pershing Square disclosed a new 9.9% stake in the Chipotle (CMG - Get Report) earlier in the week. In a filing, Ackman said he believes shares are undervalued and attractive and intends to hold discussions with Chipotle's board and management to improve performance. Chipotle shares have suffered since a food-scare scandal over the past year.