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Stock Market Report For Week Ended July 24, 2015

Stocks fall on disappointing earnings
Stocks declined for the week as disappointing earnings from some large and heavily weighted companies dragged down the benchmarks. A steep drop in oil prices also tripped up energy stocks. The narrowly focused Dow Jones Industrial Average underperformed the broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index and fell back into negative territory for the year to date. The small-cap Russell 2000 Index also lagged.

S&P 500 reaches new intraday high on Monday as global concerns recede...
After the previous week's strong gains, the S&P 500 Index briefly reached an intraday all-time high on Monday. T. Rowe Price traders noted that a quieting global macroeconomic landscape boosted sentiment. Investors welcomed Greece's debt payments to the IMF (which had been delayed) and the European Central Bank, as well as some stabilization in the volatile Chinese market.

...but stocks decline throughout the rest of the week
Stocks fell throughout much of the rest of the week, however, mainly in response to some weaker-than-expected earnings reports. Technology giants Apple and Microsoft reported disappointments after the close of trading on Tuesday, with the latter announcing its biggest quarterly operating loss ever. A drop in commodities prices also took a toll on some industrials firms, which continue to wrestle with the strong U.S. dollar. A report of a contraction in Chinese manufacturing activity on Friday deepened worries about commodity demand and appeared to further a steep slide in stocks to end the week.

Crude prices drop to spring levels
A drop in oil prices to their lowest levels since early spring weighed particularly heavily on oil stocks. Crude oil inventories in the U.S. rose more than predicted in the previous week, and the nuclear deal finalized with Iran led to expectations for millions more barrels to enter the global market as sanctions on Iranian oil exports are lifted.

Structural decline in oil production costs
T. Rowe Price energy portfolio managers and company analysts note that most of the factors that contributed to the steep fall in oil prices since the latter half of 2014 remain in place: tepid global economic growth, a strong U.S. dollar, growing North American shale oil production, and OPEC's desire to maintain market share in the face of rising non-OPEC production. Moreover, they believe that these factors will ultimately prove to be structural rather than cyclical, resulting in a long-term drop in the marginal cost of producing oil, and thus global prices.

But energy profits may not have fallen as much as much as expected in second quarter
Even as their longer-term prospects appeared to darken, the short-term profit picture for energy stocks appeared to brighten a bit. Data and analytics firm FactSet reported at the end of the week that second-quarter energy profits were falling somewhat less than had been expected, helping bring the overall estimated annual decline in S&P 500 profits down to 2.2%—less than half the drop that analysts had anticipated at the start of earnings season. Nevertheless, FactSet estimates that energy sector profits are still on track to fall 54% from the same quarter last year.


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