Here’s what moved markets on Wednesday: total retail sales figures for June came in weaker than expected, slipping 0.5%, due to a slump in auto sales. Sales at petrol stations dropped 2% while furniture sales fell for a third straight month and building materials saw a downturn in sales for a second straight month. In the six months prior to May, total retail sales had been increasing at a average monthly rate of 0.6%. Since consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of US economic activity, this gauge is considered a barometer of the country’s economic health and reiterates that the recovery continues to be choppy.
In housing, mortgage applications to buy a new home sank to its lowest in 13 years. Much of the sluggishness came after April 30, which is when a homebuyer tax credit expired.
Minutes from the June Federal Reserve meeting showed policymakers acknowledged a slowing economic recovery with GDP forecasted to grow between 3 –3.5% versus an earlier forecast of 3.2%-3.7%.
Markets ended the day relatively flat as a result of the news. Europe ended mixed while Asian indices ended the day in the green.
In commodities, US light crude oil for August delivery fell 16 cents to $76.99 a barrel while gold fell $3.80 to $1,209.60 per ounce.
In bonds, the 10-year note fell to 3.05% from 3.12% on Tuesday.