U.S. stocks took a breather on Monday from record highs as markets digest an expected pro-growth Trump presidency and the businesses it will likely favor.
The Dow Jones industrial average, Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and tech-heavy Nasdaq closed down less than one percent. The small-cap Russell 2000, which has seen the biggest rise this month, was down 1.31 percent.
Treasuries climbed, and gold edged up after a month-long retreat. Utilities and telecommunications rallied Monday while consumer and financial stocks sagged. The U.S. dollar is approaching parity with the euro.
The Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq Composite and Russell 2000 all closed at record highs on Friday.
European markets on Monday were down less than 1 percent, while most of the Asian indexes were positive. Bank shares were roiled by the upcoming referendum in Italy that would change that country’s constitution and political representation.
Investors worry a “no vote” Dec. 4 on Italy’s proposed constitutional reform could have a negative effect on Italy’s shaky banks.
U.S. stocks had been on a steady climb since the election earlier this month of Republican Donald Trump. The Dow had risen 4.5 percent over that period.
“Markets are enjoying Trumphoria, buying on the promise of things long desired and ignoring the reality of high share valuations, rising interest rates, and a soaring dollar,” said Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington, a District of Columbia investment firm. “This is bull market psychology. Caution is warranted.”
The Trump engine has slowed in recent days as the candidate’s transition appears to have stalled over disagreements on key appointments. A challenge by Green Party candidate Jill Stein over vote counts in key battleground states has also slowed momentum. Also clouding the picture is an expected increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve next month.
The chance of a Fed increase in interest rate has largely been baked into the markets since Trump’s surprise victory. The president-elect promised economic growth from a rollback in regulations, reduced business taxes and massive infrastructure spending.
The market rally was upended by uncertainty over the price of oil. On Monday, oil prices were up on the possibility of a deal limiting output by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. OPEC will begin a meeting in Vienna on Wednesday, where it hopes to limit production and thereby give a boost to oil prices.
“The oil gang promises restraint and never shows it,” Farr said. “Members of OPEC plus the others at the table have unique agendas and no loyalties. That they remain divided and unreliable is good for all who dislike monopolies. At the fish market, you ignore the yelling and pay attention to the price of fish.”
Crude oil was up around 1.95 percent Monday at $46.95 per barrel. The cartel produces about 40 percent of the world’s crude oil.
The oil market was helped by news that OPEC member Iraq will support a deal limiting output. But the oil market, which has softened from more than $100 per barrel in 2014 to less than $50 now, has been roiled by Trump’s vow to loosen the regulations of exploration and production.
Willem Buiter, Citigroup global chief economist, told Bloomberg in a television interview that OPEC will have a difficult time reaching an agreement to cap oil output, especially if the United States eases its fossil fuel regulations under Trump.
“Deals of this nature have been hard to come by,” Buiter said. “In the background, there looms a likely increase in U.S. production as deregulation, especially aimed at fossil fuel, is going to lead to a boost in U.S. production.
“If (the) U.S. starts producing significantly more in ’17, ’18, then I think we will see weak oil prices,” he said. “It really depends on what the U.S. does and whether OPEC will get its act together. Cartels are notoriously fickle beasts.”