Is the Budget Wrangling Making Markets Nervous?

Stocks took another dip on Tuesday, after incessant budget wrangling in Washington gave consumers another reason to feel less optimistic.

Stocks declined on Tuesday as the budget battle on Capitol Hill continued. With the September 30 deadline for passing a budget approaching, we should expect to experience more volatility in the stock market. Although the three major stock indices spent most of the day in positive territory, they all faded into the red by the closing bell — a pattern we have been seeing on a regular basis lately.

The Conference Board reported that its Consumer Confidence Index for September declined to 79.7 from August’s 81.8. Economists were expecting less-significant dip to 79.9. The Commentary provided by The Conference Board’s Lynn Franco disclosed that consumers are uncertain whether the economy’s current momentum can be sustained during the months ahead.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (NYSEARCA:DIA) lost 66 points to finish Tuesday’s trading session at 15,334 for a 0.43 percent decline. The S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) fell 0.26 percent to close at 1,697. The Nasdaq 100 (NASDAQ:QQQ) dipped 0.02 percent to finish at 3,218. The Russell 2000 (NYSEARCA:IWM) advanced 0.24 percent to end the day at 1,074 after reaching a new, record intraday high of 1,081.91.

In other major markets, oil (NYSEARCA:USO) dipped 0.11 percent to close at $37.23. On London’s ICE Futures Europe Exchange, November futures for Brent crude oil advanced 50 cents (0.47 percent) to $107.87/bbl. (NYSEARCA:BNO). December gold futures fell $4.60 (0.35 percent) to $1,322.40 per ounce (NYSEARCA:GLD). Transports were busy hauling money on Tuesday, although the Dow Jones Transportation Average (NYSEARCA:IYT) advanced only 0.10 percent.

On Monday, we pointed out that things were improving for the transportation sector. Tuesday’s trading session brought big gains for the following transportation stocks: DryShips (NASDAQ:DRYS) up 4.05 percent; Eagle Bulk Shipping (NASDAQ:EGLE) up 7.29 percent; Genco Shipping (NYSE:GNK) up 5.13 percent, and Baltic Trading (NASDAQ:BALT) up 7.04 percent. The SPDR S&P Transportation ETF (NYSEARCA:XTN) rose 0.42 percent.

In Japan, stocks got a slight trim as the exchange rate for the yen increased slightly, hurting exporters. The yen strengthened to 98.75 per dollar before the closing bell in Tokyo. A stronger yen causes Japanese exports to be less competitively priced in foreign markets (NYSEARCA:FXY). Canon (the manufacturer of my camera) saw its share price sink 2 percent. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average dipped 0.07 percent to 14,732 (NYSEARCA:EWJ).

The financial and real estate sectors led a stock market decline in China on Tuesday, as the real estate tax winds have once again changed course and are headed northerly. The government’s plans to allow more private sector banks to do business on the mainland sent financial sector stocks into the red. The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.61 percent to 2,207 (NYSEARCA:FXI). Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 0.82 percent to end the session at 23,179 (NYSEARCA:EWH).

European stocks advanced on Tuesday, after Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy claimed that his nation emerged from recession during the third quarter (which won’t end until Monday) and he expects to see that his nation’s economy expanded by 0.1 percent — or possibly 0.2 percent during Q3 (NYSEARCA:EWP).

More reliable economic data helped boost European bullishness after Germany’s Ifo Institute reported that its September Business Climate Index rose for the fifth consecutive month to 107.7 from August’s 107.6 (NYSEARCA:EWG). The Euro STOXX 50 Index finished Tuesday’s session with a 0.57 percent advance to 2,922 – climbing further above its 50-day moving average of 2,804. Its Relative Strength Index is 65.88 (NYSEARCA:FEZ).

Technical indicators revealed that the S&P 500 remained above its 50-day moving average of 1,679 despite finishing Tuesday’s session with a 0.26 percent decline to 1,697. Its Relative Strength Index fell from 58.83 to 56.60. Although the MACD remains above the zero line, it has assumed a declining trajectory, suggesting the likelihood of a further retreat.

For Tuesday, three sectors finished in positive territory and six sectors finished in the red. The three sectors which managed to avoid falling were the consumer discretionary, the industrial and the energy sectors.

Consumer Discretionary (NYSEARCA:XLY): +0.26 percent

Technology: (NYSEARCA:XLK): -0.43 percent

Industrials (NYSEARCA:XLI): +0.36 percent

Materials: (NYSEARCA:XLB): -0.05 percent

Energy (NYSEARCA:XLE): +0.10 percent

Financials: (NYSEARCA:XLF): -0.62 percent

Utilities (NYSEARCA:XLU): -0.07 percent

Health Care: (NYSEARCA:XLV): -0.51 percent

Consumer Staples (NYSEARCA:XLP): -0.47 percent

Bottom line: The three major stock indices faded into the red on Tuesday, as declining consumer confidence that the economy’s momentum can be sustained dovetailed with declining investor confidence that the elected officials in Washington can behave as adults.

John Nyaradi is the author of The ETF Investing Premium Newsletter.