Equities headed lower this morning, and weakened further for much of the afternoon. At the end of the day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 131 points; the S&P 500 Index was off 12 points; and the technology-heavy NASDAQ was lower by 34 points. Most stocks lost ground today, as decliners far outpaced advancers on the NYSE.
It is no secret that oil prices are significantly lower than they were in mid-2014. Natural gas quotations have weakened since then, as well. This has hurt companies involved in upstream oil and gas, including Dow 30 components Exxon Mobil (XOM) and Chevron (CVX). However, since February of 2016, oil prices have risen, although the recovery has been choppy. The companies’ prospects have improved as well, but are not what they were just a few years ago.
The Federal Reserve again looked at the possibility of raising interest rates, and as it has done on all previous Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings this year, opted to stay the course. To be sure, while some members had counseled for the need to possibly hike borrowing costs at this time, the majority felt it would be better to stand aside. However, the FOMC strongly hinted that it would still raise rates this year. The rate decision had been widely expected.