The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index erased a February gain Monday, despite a rally in crude oil, as a two-week rebound faltered in the month’s lightly traded final session.
The S&P 500 fell 0.8 percent to 1,932.03 at 4 p.m. in New York, extending its monthly losing streak to three, the longest in more than four years. It closed 0.4 percent lower for February. Afternoon declines accelerated as the gauge fell below its average price during the past 50 days. The benchmark hasn’t declined on a day when oil climbed that much since Nov. 23.
The S&P 500 halted a two-day advance on Friday after signs of firming inflation spurred speculation interest rates may rise sooner than previously expected. A bank-fueled rebound of more than 6.5 percent since a Feb. 11 through last week had briefly erased the benchmark’s losses for the month.
Investors are also watching economic releases to gauge the trajectory of rate increases, before the Federal Reserve’s next decision on March 16. Data today showed contracts to purchase previously owned homes unexpectedly dropped in January by the most in two years. A February gauge on manufacturing in the Chicago area today also fell more than forecast.
After last week’s batch of data, traders raised their bets for further Fed rate increases this year. The probability of a June boost is 32 percent, up from 27 percent a week ago, while odds of a December move reached almost 54 percent after slipping to 11 percent at the height of this month’s stock selloff on Feb. 11.