US Stock Market: DJIA, S&P500, Nasdaq and Russell ended in red on Wednesday
- The S&P 500 fell 17.02 points, or 0.4%, to 3,801.78
- The Dow Jones fell 208.54 points, or 0.7%, to 30,772.79
- The Nasdaq fell 17.15 points, or 0.2%, to 11,247.58
- The Russell 2000 fell 2.15 points, or 0.1%, to 1,726.04
Stocks finished another rough day on Wall Street with further losses on Wednesday, as highly anticipated inflation data came in worse than predicted.
After falling as much as 1.6% earlier, the S&P 500 finished 0.4% down, its fourth straight loss. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 0.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.2%, wiping up nearly all of a 2.1% loss.
As has become the norm on Wall Street this volatile year, markets made a couple of U-turns during the morning. They were following the lead of Treasury yields in the bond market, which originally rose on predictions that Federal Reserve officials would substantially raise interest rates to control the country's surging inflation.
Inflation and the Federal Reserve’s response to it have been at the centre of Wall Street’s sell-off this year. Wednesday’s discouraging data showed that inflation is not only still very high, but it’s also getting worse.
Prices at the consumer level were 9.1% higher last month than a year earlier, accelerating from May’s 8.6% inflation level. That was also worse than economists’ expectations of 8.8%.
The Fed’s main tool to combat inflation is to raise short-term interest rates, which it has already done three times this year. After Wednesday’s inflation report, traders now see it as a lock that the Federal Reserve will hike its key interest rate by at least three-quarters of a percentage point at its next meeting in two weeks.
That would match its most recent increase, which was the biggest since 1994. A growing number of traders are even suggesting the Fed will go for a monster hike of a full percentage point.
Traders are betting on a 67.8% chance of a full-point hike, up from zero a month ago, according to CME Group.
The risk is that rate hikes are a notoriously blunt tool, one that takes a long time for the full effects to be felt. If the Fed ends up too aggressive with them, it could cause a recession. In the meantime, higher rates push down on prices of all kinds of investments.
All told, the S&P 500 fell 17.02 points to 3,801.78. The Dow dropped 208.54 points to 30,772.79, and the Nasdaq lost 17.15 points to 11,247.58.
Smaller company stocks also lost ground. The Russell 2000 slipped 2.15 points, or 0.1%, to 1,726.04.
In the bond market, the two-year Treasury yield rose to 3.13% from 3.05% late Tuesday. It tends to follow expectations for Fed action, and it got as high as 3.22% immediately after the release of the inflation report.
It remains higher than the 10-year yield, which fell to 2.91%, down from 2.95% on late Tuesday. That's a relatively rare occurrence, and some investors see it as an ominous signal of a potential recession.
The inflation data also sent immediate jolts into stock markets across Europe and for gold, with prices for all of them weakening after the report's release. U.S. gold for August delivery ended up settling 0.6% higher.
Delta Air Lines fell 5% after it reported a weaker profit for the spring than analysts expected. High prices for jet fuel and a spate of cancelled flights in May and June dragged on its results.
Big banks and financial companies are coming up next, as the reporting season gets going for profits made from April through June.