Consumers were spending like mad last month, but investors don’t seem too impressed. Stocks ended Friday in the red, even though the government reported a solid rebound in retail sales for June.
The Dow dropped nearly 300 points, a loss of about 0.9%. Oil stocks and banks led the way down, with Chevron, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs among the bigger Dow losers. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each fell about 0.8%.
Investors appear to be nervous about a weaker-than-expected reading on consumer confidence from the University of Michigan. The reading for July was down from a month earlier.
Still, consumers aren’t always the most reliable judges of what’s next for the economy. Sentiment is a tricky thing that often follows news headlines and the state of the stock market. Actions, such as retail sales, which show real spending, are often more reliable barometers.
Consumers have been overly bullish just before economic or market meltdowns. That was the case in January 2000. Consumer confidence hit a then record high just as tech stocks were about to implode. Sentiment was also at a high level in 2007 before the housing market crashed.
But despite Friday’s drop, the Dow and the S&P 500 finished the week just slightly lower, and not far from their record highs. The Nasdaq fell nearly 2% over the past five days.
Bitoech Moderna was a bright spot Friday, surging more than 10% following the news that the Covid-19 vaccine maker is being added to the S&P 500.
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