Markets Now: The Dow's Not Moving But Have You Seen the Dollar?


We're keeping a semi-live look on the volatile markets. Here's the latest from Barron's reporters...

2:42 p.m. Stocks are still refusing to budge. The S&P 500 has advanced 0.2% to 2730.85, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average is off 9.45 points at 24,791.91. The Nasdaq Composite has risen 0.2% to 7412.40.

Michael Nagle/Bloomberg

But just because there's no action in the stock market, doesn't mean other markets aren't moving. The U.S. Dollar Index has gained 0.6% to 90.21 today, thanks to the euro's 0.8% to $1.2311. What's particularly strange is that the European Central Bank removed language about quantitative easing in its statement this morning, which seems like the kind of thing that should help the euro strengthen, not weaken. But the euro has gained 17% during the past 12 months, a huge move for a currency, and there wasn't much to convince investors that tighter policy is coming, says Rafiki Capital Management's Steven Englander. "Draghi said absolutely nothing else that sounded hawkish," he continues.

And if you think what the dollar and euro do don't matter, think again. The Stoxx Europe 50 gained 1.1% today, even as U.S. stocks stall, because a weaker euro is thought to a boon to the continent's exporters.

If one day becomes a trend, European stocks could start outperforming.

11:44 a.m.An apocryphal story states that King George III wrote in his diary on July 4, 1776 that "nothing of importance happened today." do I bring this up? Because if you look at the stock market, it looks like nothing of importance happened today. That's not quite true.

Yes, the S&P 500 has advanced just 0.1% to 2728.75, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average has ticked up 8.56 points to 24,809.92, and the Nasdaq Composite has risen 0.2% to 7411.33. That's pretty close to nothing.

But we can't help feel like investors shouldn't overlook the European Central Bank's monetary policy meeting today, where it did almost nothing. It left rates unchanged and it left its bond buying plans as they were. But a sentence concerning a downturn in the economy leading to more bond buying was dropped, another sign that the central bank is on a very, very slow path towards normalization. It barely caused a ripple. "The surprise for market participants is most probably the lack of reaction in assets," writes Westpac's Tim Riddell.

Let's hope the surprise doesn't come later.

8:05 a.m. After yesterday's wild ride, which saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average drop more than 300 points to finish down less than 100, it's nice to see not much happening with the market this morning.

Getty Images

S&P 500 futures have risen 0.3%, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures have advanced 30 points, or 0.1%. Nasdaq Composite futures have gained 0.5%.

It certainly helps that there are signs Mexico and Canada could be exempt from tariffs on steel and aluminum, at least for now, and also that the European Central Bank didn't make any major changes at its monetary policy meeting beyond dropping a line about being willing to increase its bond buying if economic conditions got worse. We're also waiting on jobless claims at 8:30 this morning.

But it's still about tariffs. "Risk is back on as markets shrug off Cohn's departure and note Trump's potential willingness to backslide on tariffs," writes Rhino Trading Partner's Michael Block. "That said, this is not going away and strong Chinese trade data is only going to push Trump towards protectionism."

The tariff saga isn't over. - Ben Levisohn

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

More Related Articles

Sign up for Smart Investing to get the latest news, strategies and tips to help you invest smarter.