Stocks fall, dollar regains ground ahead of Trump speech

Leaf Group CEO Sean Moriarty and Chairman of the Board James Quandt walk on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

NEW YORK – Stocks in major markets dipped and the Dow snapped a streak of records while longer-dated Treasury yields fell as investors prepared for President Donald Trump’s Tuesday night address to a joint Congress session.

The global index was off 0.2 percent after rising more than 8 percent since Trump’s Nov. 8 election on expectations for a pro-business administration.

But some investors were not convinced Trump would reveal much in the way of concrete plans to realize key campaign promises such as tax reform. Some portfolio managers mentioned the possibility of a U.S. equities correction.

“There’s significant risk for a potential delay or a watering down of the campaign promises. He can get some things done but it won’t be as phenomenal as expected,” said Paul Eitelman, Multi-Asset Investment Strategist at Russell Investments in Seattle.

Wall Street indexes and bond yields were not helped by fourth-quarter U.S. data including gross domestic product growth that was below expectations. Some investors had hoped for an upward revision, according to portfolio managers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 25.2 points, or 0.12 percent, to close at 20,812.24, breaking a 12-day run of record closing highs.

The S&P 500 .SPX lost 6.11 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,363.64 but still ended the day 10.5 percent higher than where it closed on Nov. 8. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 36.46 points, or 0.62 percent, to 5,825.44.Trump met U.S. state governors at the White House on Monday and said he sees “big” infrastructure spending and is seeking a military spending hike of more than 9 percent.

“The real question becomes how much patience does the market have,” said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey. “If you’re basing your projection on pro-growth and pro-business, it’s based on the tax reform. So what the market wants to hear is that this is still a top priority and that the process is moving ahead.”

The U.S. dollar clawed back earlier losses and was last up 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies .DXY. It hit a 14-year high early January but is off 0.9 percent year-to-date.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury yields fell on month-end buying and shorter-dated yields rose on bets the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates as soon as March, resulting in part of the yield curve hitting its flattest since November.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield US10YT=RR was marginally lower in late trading at 2.365 percent, while the 30-year bond yield US30YT=RR was down nearly 2 basis points at 2.967 percent.

In contrast, the two-year Treasury yield US2YT=RR, which is most sensitive to traders’ view on Fed policy, was up over 3 basis points at 1.236 percent.

In late trading, comments from two senior Fed officials sparked a flurry of selling, with the 2-year yield jumping to its highest since December. Interest rate futures implied traders saw a nearly 57 percent chance the Fed will raise rates at its next meeting on March 14-15, up from roughly 31 percent late on Monday, according to Reuters data.

Oil futures dipped as OPEC-led output cuts were offset by concerns about increasing U.S. crude production. Brent crude LCOc1 settled down 0.6 percent at $55.59 a barrel while U.S. crude CLc1 fell further to $53.94 after settling down 0.07 percent at $54.01. [O/R]

Spot Gold XAU= fell 0.4 percent to $1,248.31 an ounce. On Monday it had hit a 3-1/2-month high intraday but ended lower. – Reuters

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