The Oklahoman

S&P 500 ends August with seventh straight monthly gain

- Damian J. Troise

A wobbly day on Wall Street ended Tuesday with major indexes slipping just below recent record highs, but the S&P 500 closed out August solidly in the green with its seventh straight monthly gain.

Investors are busy trying to figure out just how much of an impact rising COVID-19 cases will have on the still recovering economy. The market has been choppy amid a mix of economic data, some of which has signaled that consumers are becoming more cautious.

“The market is still really dealing and grappling with the question of what direction are we taking,” said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

Investors are gauging which areas of the market are poised to benefit in the coming months as supply constraint­s continue to hamper some industries while COVID-19 continues to threaten the economic recovery, he said. The uncertaint­y has contribute­d to shifting gains and losses for services-oriented sectors and other areas of the economy that typically do well in a growing economy.

The S&P 500 index fell 6.11 points or 0.1%, to 4,522.68, after setting a record high a day prior. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 39.11 points, or, 0.1%, to 35,360.73 and the Nasdaq slipped 6.65 points, or less than 0.1%, to 15,259.24.

Technology stocks were the biggest weight dragging down the benchmark S&P 500, despite more stocks rising than falling within the index. Smaller company stocks fared better than the broader market. The Russell 2000 rose 7.78 points, or 0.3%, to 2,273.77.

Despite the choppiness, the S&P 500 powered through August for a 2.9% gain. That marks seven straight monthly gains. The Nasdaq closed the month with a 4% gain.

The market has been lifted by a number of factors this month. Corporate earnings came in much better than expected, giving investors confidence to pay premium prices for an already lofty market. Also, the Federal Reserve has made it clear that it believes inflation will be temporary and any pullback of financial support from the central bank would be gradual.

The latest economic data showed once again the impact the delta variant of the coronaviru­s is having on the economy. Consumer confidence in August fell sharply to a reading of 113.8 compared to a reading of 125.1 in July. Economists had been expecting a reading of 124.0. Most of the decline was tied to the spread of the virus in the past month.

The weak report weighed down some companies, such as clothing and apparel makers, that rely on discretion­ary spending from consumers. Under Armour fell 4.1%. Tapestry, which owns Coach and Kate Spade, fell 2.3%

The bond market was quiet, with the 10-year Treasury note trading at a yield of 1.30%. That’s up from 1.28% the day before.

Gold for December delivery rose $5.90 to $1,818.10 an ounce. Silver for December delivery was unchanged at $24.01 an ounce, and December copper was also unchanged at $4.38 a pound.

The dollar rose to 110.00 Japanese yen from 109.89 yen. The euro rose to $1.1812 from $1.1802.

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