Wall Street ended the first week of the second quarter lower than it started. Day-to-day churn and the wait for progress in tax reform kept markets in the red for the past five days.
The S&P 500 fell just 0.3% over the past five days, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.03%, and the Nasdaq slid 0.57%.
"The two larger themes at play [in markets] continue to be relatively strong global economic data, along with the timing and extent of Trump administration policy changes," Bill Merz, investment consultant at U.S. Bank's Private Client Reserve, told TheStreet. "A second attempt at getting a healthcare bill through Congress in the near term is likely to extend the timing of tax reform efforts. This pushes any potential economic impact well into 2018, contributing to the equity market remaining range bound in recent weeks."
President Donald Trump's ability to work the political system has been called into question after his Obamacare repeal and replace bill was pulled before a congressional vote in March. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan had failed to secure the necessary number of votes for the bill to pass the House. Ryan said on Wednesday that tax reform will take longer than a health care bill, noting that the House, Senate and White House were on different pages when it came to their plans' development.
Trump's handle of international crises and diplomacy was under the radar this week, particularly after escalating warfare in Syria triggered U.S. intervention. Around 60 cruise missiles were launched at the al-Shayrat airfield on Thursday evening. The air base was identified by the U.S. as the location from which a chemical attack that killed dozens was launched earlier this week. The attack by American destroyers USS Ross and Porter was the first time the U.S. has directly intervened in Syria's long-running civil war.
Trump also met with China's President Xi Jinping for a two-day summit at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Trading was nervous for the days heading into the Thursday and Friday meeting as pundits guessed at how fraught the conversations might be. Trump said Thursday night that the two leaders had "developed a friendship."
Trump had been highly critical of China on the campaign trail and since taking office, accusing the country of currency manipulation and stealing U.S. jobs. Trump had previously proposed a high tariff on U.S. imports of Chinese-made products. North Korea also will presumably be an important topic of conversation.
Worries over slowing growth in the labor market also rose to end the week. The U.S. economy added just 98,000 jobs in March, the smallest increase in nearly a year and well below estimates of 180,000. The construction sector was partly to blame, adding only 6,000 new jobs largely due to a late-season snow storm.
"Taken as a whole, the payroll report was mixed to slightly weak, but is having minimal market impact and is unlikely to change the [Federal Reserve's] course of action on a standalone basis," added U.S. Bank's Merz. "While the headline number disappointed, a meaningful portion of that was due to construction jobs being front-loaded in the prior two months due to abnormally warm weather."
The Fed rattled nerves earlier in the week after signaling further monetary tightening this year. The Fed said it might reduce its balance sheet later this year, including the possibility of ending its policy of reinvesting principal payments, according to minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's March meeting. Reducing the balance sheet could have the same impact on the markets as a rate hike. The Fed currently holds $4.5 trillion in bonds on its balance sheet. The central bank raised rates in March for the third time since 2008.
U.S. oil production and stockpiles continued to grow over the past week. The number of active oil-drilling rigs rose for another week, according to Baker Hughes data, while the Energy Information Administration reported an increase in domestic supplies of 1.6 million barrels.
In earnings news, Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBBY - Get Report) topped analysts' estimates in its recent quarter. The homewares retailer earned $1.84 a share, down from $1.91 in the year-ago quarter but above targets of $1.77.
Monsanto (MON blew past profit and sales estimates. Adjusted earnings of $3.19 a share came in higher than a target of $2.79. Sales rose 12% to $5.07 billion and exceeded consensus of $4.73 billion. The agricultural chemicals company is currently undergoing a $66 billion buyout from Bayer.
Walgreens (WBA - Get Report) fell short of earnings and revenue estimates over its fiscal second quarter. The pharmacy chain earned adjusted profit of $1.36 a share, a penny below estimates. Sales fell 2.4% to $29.45 billion and missed targets of $30.26 billion.
Earlier in the week, Panera Bread (PNRA secured a deal to be purchased by JAB for $7.5 billion. Privately held JAB will purchase the bakery chain for $315 a share in an all-cash deal that values Panera at a 30% premium to its 30-day average at the end of March, before deal talks influenced stock prices. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter.
Tesla (TSLA - Get Report) surpassed Ford (F - Get Report) as the second-largest car company in the U.S. after delivering a record number of vehicles in the first quarter. The number of deliveries increased 69% from a year earlier.