In with a bang, out with a whimper

In with a bang, out with a whimper: That’s how traders would describe last week—if they were even at their desks.

Volatility spiked initially on North Korea’s successful hydrogen-bomb test, but things soon calmed to the tiny swings more typical for the short week following Labor Day. By the time it was all said and done, the S&P 500 registered a 0.6 percent decline between Friday, September 1, and Friday, September 8.

Economic news was a snooze but the weather provided plenty of drama as Texas cleaned up from Hurricane Harvey and Florida braced for Irma. Bears had a field day pounding insurance stocks.

That only added insult to injury for financials, which also came under pressure from sliding bond yields. All told, the sector lost almost three percent of its value last week, and was the worst major bucket in the market.

Health care, on the other hand, rose more than 1.5 percent as investors kept buying on the heels of a late-August spike in the group. Energy clawed its way back from long-term lows to deliver a one percent gain amid news that Russia and Saudi Arabia may extend oil-production cuts.

Turning to individual stocks, pharmaceutical maker AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) ripped 13 percent on the week after reporting positive trial results for a potential eczema drug.1 That made it the best performer in the S&P 500. CF Industries (NYSE: CF) and Cooper (NYSE: COO) vied for second place with gains of almost seven percent.

S&P 500, 6/13/17 - 9/8/17

Source: OptionsHouse by E*TRADE

Experian (NYSE: EFX) cratered 13 percent after announcing that the personal data of 143 million Americans may have been stolen. Lawyers, start your engines!2 Newell Brands (NYSE: NWL) also plunged 10 percent after warning that Harvey’s havoc would squeeze its margins by driving up the price of plastic resins used in its products.3 Blame it on the rain, Rubbermaid, blame it on the rain. Everest Re (NYSE: RE) fell a similar amount.

On a side note, global stocks continued to outpace their domestic peers as the U.S. dollar fell to its lowest level since early 2015. 

The forward calendar brings a handful of noteworthy events. Nothing’s scheduled for today but there’s likely to be plenty of attention on the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Tomorrow is tech Tuesday, with smartphone giant Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) expected to unveil its latest iPhone and Deutsche Bank holding an industry conference.

The next morning features oil inventories, followed by Chinese industrial and retail data in the evening. Initial jobless claims are due Thursday. The week concludes with last month’s retail sales, consumer sentiment, the New York Federal Reserve’s Empire manufacturing index, and July industrial production.


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1. Reuters: AbbVie's positive eczema study drags down Regeneron's shares. 9/7/17.

2. CNBC: New York attorney general launches investigation into Equifax breach. 9/8/17

3. Marketwatch: Newell Brands stock falls after profit outlook cut in wake of Hurricane Harvey. 9/8/17.