Wall St slips as Treasury yields rise, oil prices boost energy sector

By Sinéad Carew and Shristi Achar A

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s three major averages closed lower on Tuesday with the Dow leading declines as Treasury yields rose along with oil prices and investors assessed prospects for the Federal Reserve’s interest rate path.

While all three main U.S. stock indexes had logged gains in the previous week on hopes for a less hawkish Fed, that sentiment had faded by Monday.

U.S. Treasury yields rose after economic data showed resilience and Fed Governor Christopher Waller said it suggests that the central bank need not change rates any time soon.

“Part of the reason stocks are struggling to make headway is that interest rates are continuing to rise and provide a good alternative to stocks,” said Paul Nolte, market strategist, Murphy & Sylvest Wealth Management, Elmhurst, Illinois.

With U.S. crude oil prices rallying on Tuesday, Nolte also cited recent strength in oil prices as a damper to the Fed’s efforts to push inflation back to 2%.

“Everybody has been expecting the Fed to step aside or start cutting rates. That might not be the case,” he said.

Traders’ bets that the Fed will leave rates unchanged at its September policy meeting stood at 93%, while they priced in a roughly 54% chance of a pause in November, the CME Group’s FedWatch tool showed.

Along with relatively light trading volume a day after Monday’s Labor Day holiday, Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research, also noted that the Fed will have to look at upcoming data such as August’s inflation readings before making a rate decision later this month.

“The market’s not sure which way it wants to turn,” he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 195.74 points, or 0.56%, to 34,641.97, the S&P 500 lost 18.94 points, or 0.42%, at 4,496.83 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 10.86 points, or 0.08%, to 14,020.95.

Among the S&P’s 11 major sectors, energy was the biggest gainer, closing up 0.5% after hitting a roughly seven-month high. Saudi Arabia and Russia earlier announced a fresh extension to their voluntary supply cuts. [O/R]

The economically sensitive materials sector and industrials were weak throughout the session with respective declines of 1.8% and 1.7%. Interest rate sensitive utilities lost 1.5% as the day’s third weakest S&P sector.

The Dow Jones Transport index finished off 2.2%, weighed down by a slide in airline stocks as rising oil prices implied higher fuel costs. The S&P 1500 airlines index finished down 2.4%.

United Airlines closed off 2.5% after falling as much as 4.7% earlier in the day with a system-wide information technology issue forcing an hour-long aircraft ground stop.

China’s services activity expanded at its slowest pace in eight months in August, a private sector survey showed earlier.

Data on Tuesday showed orders for U.S. factory goods declined 2.1% in July, ending a four-month streak of gains.

On the bright side, Goldman Sachs lowered its estimate for the chance of a U.S recession in the next 12 months to 15% from 20%.

Shares of Airbnb rallied 7% while Blackstone added 3.6% on news that their stocks would join the S&P 500 index. Oracle shares rose 2.5% after Barclays upgraded the software company to “overweight” from “equal weight.”

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 3.31-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.28-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and 25 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 50 new highs and 142 new lows.

On U.S. exchanges, 9.54 billion shares changed hands compared with the 10.26 billion moving average for the last 20 sessions.

(Reporting by Sinéad Carew in New York, Shristi Achar A and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Shounak Dasgupta and Richard Chang)