Major U.S. stock indexes retreated from records as uncertainty swirled over whether Republicans can unify enough to pass corporate tax cuts, a promise that has been driving markets to new highs for nearly a year.
The S&P 500 declined 0.05%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.27% on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Indexes had been higher earlier in the day, even hitting intraday records, after closing at all-time highs in the previous session. And the Dow Jones Industrial Average ultimately broke another record, inching up 0.02% at Tuesday's close.
Senate Republicans expect to release their take on tax reform on Friday, a little more than a week after the House GOP released its Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said his chamber aims to debate the bill next week, while the House could pass its version around the same time. President Donald Trump's White House has pushed for tax cuts to pass by the end of the year. If that happens, it will be the first piece of major legislation since he assumed office in January.
"With the failure of health care and basically every other legislative initiative, [Republicans'] ability to govern is still very much in question," Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, wrote in a note. "A failure on tax reform, which seems close to the default assumption among many, would just give an answer of "no" to that question. Taking that into the 2018 midterms would certainly raise the chances of losing the House and possibly the Senate."
The financial sector was the biggest loser on markets Tuesday. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) weighed on the Dow, while Bank of America Corp. (BAC) and Citigroup Inc. (C) also declined. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) declined by 1.4%.
Priceline Group Inc. (PCLN) fell 14% after issuing disappointing fourth-quarter guidance. The travel bookings site anticipates adjusted earnings of $13.40 to $14 a share, below analysts' estimates of $15.57. For the third quarter, Priceline earned an adjusted $35.22 a share, above estimates of $34.26.
Tripadvisor Inc. (TRIP) and Expedia Inc. (EXPE) were also sharply lower, and consumer stocks including Nike Inc. (NKE) , Ford Motor Co. (F) , General Motors Co. (GM) , and Target Corp. (TGT) weighed on the sector. The Consumer Discretionary SPDR ETF (XLY) declined by 0.6%.
Crude oil prices slipped on Tuesday after their best gains in nearly a year a day earlier. Prices had rallied following political upheaval in Saudi Arabia, where the crown prince arrested a number of his political rivals over the weekend in what was justified as a crackdown on corruption.
The arrests consolidated power for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a notably pro-OPEC force in Saudi politics, making it even more likely that the oil cartel's production caps will be extended, according to analysts. A deal among Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is set to expire in March 2018.
West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 0.6% to $56.99 a barrel on Tuesday, following its best daily increase since Nov. 30 a day earlier.
Energy stocks pulled back on Tuesday after leading markets the day before. Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDS.A) , Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) and Petrobras (PBR) were all lower, and the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) fell 0.3%.
Walt Disney Co. (DIS) continued to rise on reports it was interested in acquiring assets of 21st Century Fox (FOXA) . It isn't certain that a deal could come from discussions held in recent weeks. Reports of negotiations broke on Monday, sending both companies sharply higher.
Disney's gains were also fueled by speculation on its earnings report on Thursday, Nov. 9. Analysts expect a solid fourth-quarter performance with net income rising to $1.15 a share over the three months to September, higher than $1.10 a year earlier. Sales are expected to come in on the weak side, with revenue growth of just 1.2% to $13.3 billion, according to FactSet.
Growth in Disney's media networks unit will be a closely watched metric. That segment, which accounts for 43% of total revenue, has been under pressure on falling paid subscriber numbers, higher programming costs, lower advertising sales, and an underperforming ESPN. It's a tough environment for any media company, Disney included -- viewership of ad-supported TV is in a four-year decline and has dropped 14% year over year this quarter, Bernstein analysts pointed out.
In automotive news, Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) said Tuesday that fiscal second-quarter profit rose 16% and it raised its annual profit forecast for a second time this year on a weaker yen and a jump in sales. Japan's biggest automaker said profit for the July-September quarter was 458.2 billion yen ($4 billion), up from 393.7 billion yen a year earlier. Sales in the quarter rose 10% to 7.14 trillion yen. Toyota said its RAV4 sport-utility vehicle and Camry sedan posted strong sales in the U.S.
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (SEAS) posted a disappointing quarterly performance. For the quarter, SeaWorld posted adjusted earnings of 64 cents per share on revenue of $437.7 million. Analysts expected adjusted earnings of 81 cents per share on revenue of $451.2 million. The company also reported a decline in third-quarter attendance of approximately 732,000 guests, a drop attributed to a series of hurricanes in late August and early September.
Weight Watchers International Inc. (WTW) roared higher after a better-than-expected third quarter. Net income rose to 65 cents a share from 53 cents a year earlier. Analysts expected profit of 51 cents a share. Revenue of $323.7 million beat estimates of $316 million.
Etsy Inc. (ETSY) swung to a quarterly profit in its third quarter. The online crafts company earned 21 cents a share in its recent quarter compared with a loss of 2 cents a share a year earlier. Analysts anticipated earnings of 7 cents a share. Revenue surged nearly 22% to $106.4 million, higher than an estimated $105 million.
In other stock news, billionaire activist Bill Ackman lost his bid to shake up the board and restructure Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP) . Ackman had been seeking a minority slate of three seats on ADP's board, including one for himself. However, ADP shareholders voted to re-elect all of the payroll company's directors and Ackman and his two other candidates received support from holders of less than 20% of ADP's outstanding shares.
Blue Apron Holdings Inc. (APRN) tanked on Tuesday as trading remained bearish following disappointing quarterly results last week. The meal-kit delivery company reported a wider net loss over its third quarter. Blue Apron was also under pressure after CEO Matt Salzberg said the new fulfillment center in Linden, New Jersey, was proving costly. At a conference on Tuesday, Salzberg said Linden was its "worst-margin operating center because it's very new." Shares have fallen 70% since the company went public on June 29.
Job openings unexpectedly rose in September, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that openings increased to 6.093 million in September, up from 6.082 million in August. Analysts expected the measure to remain flat.