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09-May2018

US markets end mixed; S&P reports minor loss

The US markets closed ended mixed on Tuesday after President Donald Trump, as expected, announced the US would pull out of a multilateral nuclear deal with Iran. Trump announced the US was abandoning the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which was forged by former President Barack Obama three years ago. The president also said he planned to ramp up penalties against Tehran, including the highest level of economic sanctions. Trump suggested that the US may still be open to negotiations with Iran but the abandonment of the nuclear deal puts the Washington at odds with many European allies, including France and Germany. Separately, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the role of US monetary policy in driving global financial conditions and capital flows is often overstated. The pickup in both global growth and commodity prices are also factors. Powell said that the Fed should still remain alert to risk sentiment as monetary policy normalization occurs, adding that officials will try to avoid market disruptions by communicating its policy strategy as clearly and transparently as possible. Powell added that emerging market economies should be able to manage as advanced economies move toward tighter monetary policy.

On the economy front, the index of small-business optimism from the National Federation of Independent Businesses ticked up fractionally to 104.8 in April. The closely-watched confidence index roared to fresh highs after tax cuts were passed late last year. But it's struggled to hold its momentum since then. The April increase, of 0.1 point, missed economists' forecasts of a 0.2-point gain. Despite the disappointing headline number, the small-business lobby highlighted a surge in the gauge of expected profit trends, which hit the highest in the survey's 45-year history.

Meanwhile, according to the latest data from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, there were 6.55 million job openings in March. In March, there were 6.59 million unemployed, meaning there are 1.01 unemployed workers for every job. In July 2009, just as the US exited the Great Recession, there were 6.65 unemployed people for every available job. The fact that job openings have climbed so steadily - at a time when jobs growth is slowing - suggests that companies are now having a hard time finding the right workers. While average hourly pay was just 2.6% in the 12 months ending April, the three-month average of median wage growth in March was a stronger 3.3%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 2.89 points or 0.01 percent to 24,360.21, the Nasdaq gained 1.689 points or 0.02 percent to 7,266.90, while the S&P 500 was down by 0.71 points or 0.03 percent to 2,671.92.



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