Wall Street wobbled into the weekend as a few pieces of data tempered recently raised hopes for the American economic recovery.
Retail sales improved for the third consecutive month, up 1.2% in July – but the pace of growth has decelerated, and that figure fell below economists' expectations.SEE MORE 20 Best Stocks to Buy for the Next Bull Market
"Part of this could be because several categories have already recovered to their pre-COVID level of sales, leaving little space for a strong bounce-back," says Pooja Sriram, Vice President, US Economist at Barclays Investment Bank. "Part of this could also be a signal of moderating consumption in the coming months. Indeed, we see downside risks to consumption spending if additional fiscal stimulus is not forthcoming.
Moreover, a preliminary August reading of the University of Michigan Index of Consumer Sentiment did improve, to 72.8 from July's 72.5, but remained at depressed levels far off the 90-100 readings of the past few years pre-COVID.
Further weighing on investors: The Senate adjourned through Labor Day without reaching an agreement on new stimulus measures, with both political parties seemingly miles apart and unlikely to reach a deal for weeks.
The S&P 500 yet again failed to clear its previous high at 3,386, declining less than a point to 3,372 to remain in bear-market territory. The Nasdaq Composite declined a modest -0.2% to 11,019, and the small-cap Russell 2000 slipped 0.1% to 1,577. The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a 0.1% gain to 27,931.
A special alert for Closing Bell readers: Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) holding company will file its most recent portfolio changes by today's close of business, and we'll be updating our full, ranked list of Warren Buffett's stocks – which includes dozens of dividend-paying stocks – over the next few hours.Can the Market's Fastest 100-Day Rally Keep Going?
On Thursday, the S&P 500 cemented its best 100-day rally ever: a 50%-plus gain since the March 23 lows that doesn't seem to jibe with a still-diminished economic picture.SEE MORE Kip ETF 20: The Best Cheap ETFs You Can Buy
But LPL Financial Chief Market Strategist Ryan