US Stock Market Overview – Stocks Slide into the Close, Oil Prices Jump

Iran attacks a British ship, buoying oil prices
David Becker
Equity Markets

Stocks prices moved initially moved higher on Friday, but eased heading into the weekend. The Fed has signaled that it will likely move 25-basis points when it meats at the end of July. There are many that believe the Fed should hold steady, and one leader than does not. President Donald Trump weighed into a simmering debate over Federal Reserve interest rate policy, saying Friday that the central bank needs to end its tightening moves. Sectors were mixed, with Energy the best performer as oil prices rallied following news that the Iranian National Guard seized a British ship. Utilities were the worst performer.

Trump Tweets Hits Opinion

The US president conveyed in a series of tweets that addressed an unusual controversy stemming from a speech Thursday that New York Fed President John Williams delivered. The markets initially perceived that Williams’ remarks as indicative that the central bank was prepared to cut rates aggressively, by perhaps 50-basis points. But a Fed spokesman soon walked back the comments, causing confusion over where policy is headed.

Trump said he liked Williams’ initial statement. He called on the Fed to stop with the crazy quantitative tightening. Trump is not concerned with the Fed’s move to stabilize the economy keeping maximum employment and price stability. He is interested in adding rocket fuel to the economy into the election and then if it fizzles later he will deal with that during the second term.

Oil Jumps on Iranian Attack

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard reported that it seized a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, claiming it failed to follow international marine regulations. The guard took the British tanker, Stena Impero, to a coastal area and turned it over to maritime authorities. Britain said it was urgently seeking further information. The move by Iran follows the seizure of an Iranian tanker earlier this month by the British Royal Marines on suspicion it was breaking European sanctions and taking oil to Syria.

Consumer Sentiment Remains Robust

On Friday, the University of Michigan’s reported its preliminary consumer sentiment index rose to 98.4, from 98.2 in June. Expectations was for July consumer sentiment to reach 98.5. Strong consumer data has largely held up in face of an expected reduction in interest rates which has made it more difficult to justify policy easing. The Federal Reserve usually does not cut interest rates when economic conditions show few signs of a recession.

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