Weekly Expert Perspectives PAS

Facebook Flop Steals Trade-Deal Thunder

Stocks moved mostly higher this week, sending the S&P 500 within 1.5% of its January 26 record high, with investors focused on a potential U.S.-EU trade deal and the latest batch of Q2 earnings, which featured results from high-flying FAANG names like Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), and Alphabet (GOOG).

The S&P 500 advanced 0.6%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.6%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq struggled, however, losing 1.1%, due in large part to Facebook's 19% plunge on Thursday -- which marked the biggest-ever one-day drop in market value for a U.S.-listed company (-$119.1 billion).

Facebook tumbled in response to its Q2 earnings report, which showed below-consensus revenues and slowing user growth, due in part to the #DeleteFacebook movement following the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. In addition, the social media giant also issued below-consensus revenue guidance. However, Google's parent company Alphabet and internet-retail behemoth Amazon helped balance things out with better-than-expected results.

Still, the top-weighted technology sector, which houses most FAANG names, was the worst-performing group this week, diving 1.2%. Conversely, financials was among the top-performing spaces with a gain of 2.0%, benefiting from a rise in interest rates; the yield on the benchmark 10-yr Treasury note climbed six basis points to 2.96%.

On the data front, the preliminary reading for second quarter GDP showed an annualized increase of 4.1%, in line with the Briefing.com consensus estimate and the best reading since the third quarter of 2014. Consumer spending was the main engine of growth, increasing 4.0% and contributing 2.69 percentage points.

In politics, President Trump met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the White House on Wednesday. Stocks spiked that afternoon on headlines that Mr. Trump has secured trade concessions from the EU, including a pledge to import more soybeans and natural gas from the U.S. and to improve market access for U.S. medical devices. The two sides also decided to table auto tariffs while they continue to negotiate.

The European Central Bank decided on Thursday to keep its key policy rate unchanged, as expected, and reiterated that net asset purchases will likely cease at the end of December, with the reinvestment of principal payments continuing for an extended period of time thereafter.

Looking ahead, the Federal Reserve will release its latest policy directive on Wednesday. The market isn't expecting a rate hike, but investors will be interested to see what the central bank has to say about future rate increases this year; currently, the market is anticipating two additional hikes by year's end.

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2018-63794 (Exp 10/18)

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