Stocks fall ahead of presidential debate, oil rises 3%
United States equities fell on Monday as market watchers kept a close eye on a key OPEC meeting and looked ahead to a U.S. presidential debate.
“I think this is a bit of pre-debate jitters,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “People are probably taking a bit of risk off the table ahead of the debate.”
The Dow Jones industrial average briefly fell more than 150 points before holding about 100 points lower, with Goldman Sachs contributing the most losses. The S&P 500 dropped approximately 0.5 percent, with health care lagging. The Nasdaq composite fell about 0.6 percent.
“Investors are waiting to see what happens at the presidential debate,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. “The market hasn’t been affected by the elections, but now they are.”
Polls between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, her Republican counterpart, have narrowed considerably in recent weeks. According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released last week, Clinton held a six-point lead over Trump heading into the debate. A Bloomberg poll released Monday showed both candidates were deadlocked.
“I feel both candidates do not deserve the presidency, but from an economic standpoint, Hillary Clinton is the lesser of two evils,” Cardillo said.
The first of three debates will be held at Hofstra University and is set to begin at 9 p.m. ET.
“This is a market thinking about several things. First and foremost, the U.S. election. The market is used to pricing in monetary policy, but a national election is a bit more difficult,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.
Hogan added investors were also focusing on an OPEC meeting taking place in Algiers. Crude oil prices gained on Monday, after media reports cited the Algerian energy minister saying all options were possible for an output cut or freeze. U.S. oil rose 3.2 percent to trade at $45.89 per barrel.
But Schwab’s Frederick said “OPEC is a much less cohesive cartel than it once was,” adding that Saudi Arabia doesn’t have the same pricing power it once had.
“Whatever happens with the OPEC meeting is irrelevant. I think oil prices are going to go higher,” First Standard’s Cardillo said.
Investors also monitored shares of Deutsche Bank, which hit an all-time low after German Chancellor Angela Merkel had reportedly ruled out helping the bank with its U.S. legal troubles.
Deutsche’s fall weighed heavily on European equities, with the pan-European Stoxx 600 index shedding about 1.5 percent. “Looks like Deutsche Bank sneezed and we all caught a cold,” said Wunderlich’s Hogan. “That … has everybody down.”
“Let’s be honest, when push comes to shove, the German government will be standing by Deutsche Bank if need be. We just don’t know to what extent and at what cost if it were come to pass,” Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said in a note to clients.
In economic news, new home sales totaled 609,000. Two Federal Reserve speeches are also scheduled for Monday, with Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan and Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo are both scheduled to speak. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari also spoke, but did not address monetary policy.
U.S. Treasurys rose, with the two-year yield at 0.742 percent and the benchmark 10-year note yield at 1.598 percent. The Treasury Department is scheduled to sell $26 billion in two-year notes at 1 p.m. ET.