Stocks edged lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street Monday as communications companies and banks fell broadly.
The S&P 500 fell 0.3% as of 2:40 p.m. Eastern after rising as much as 0.6% earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 146 points, or 0.4%, to 34,593 and the Nasdaq also fell 0.1%.
The price of U.S. crude oil rose 1.5% to over $80 a barrel.
Bond trading was closed for the Columbus Day holiday.
Investors are looking ahead to the beginning of company earnings this week. Analysts have said that the latest round of corporate results could help give the market more direction after several choppy weeks. Stocks have been swaying between between gains and losses as investors try to better gauge the direction of the economic recovery through the rest of the year.
Banks will be among the first big companies to report their latest financial results and give investors more insight into how companies are faring amid concerns over the lingering virus pandemic and rising inflation.
JPMorgan Chase delivers its results on Wednesday. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup will report results on Thursday.
Delta Air Lines will report its latest results on Wednesday. The airline industry is still struggling to recover from the pandemic shutdowns that began 18 months ago. Investors will be closely monitoring the industry's results to see how much of an impact the summer surge of COVID-19 cases had on the industry.
Wall Street faced a quiet day of corporate news ahead of earnings. Southwest Airlines fell 3.3% after dealing with hundreds of flight cancellations over the weekend. Toymaker Hasbro fell 0.8% after announcing that CEO Brian D. Goldner is taking a medical leave of absence.
Investors are also looking ahead to economic data this week that could shed more light on what's going on with inflation. The Labor Department will release its Consumer Price Index on Wednesday and its Producer Price Index on Thursday. The reports detail pressure from inflation on consumers and businesses.
Companies from a wide range of industries have warned investors that supply chain problems and higher raw materials costs could crimp their financial results for the rest of the year. Wall Street is closely monitoring whether those higher costs and resulting higher prices for goods will hurt consumer spending, which is a key driver of economic growth.
Inflation will likely remain the dominant theme swirling over markets through 2021 and into 2022, said Jay Hatfield, CEO of Infrastructure Capital Advisors. The upcoming Consumer Price Index data on Wednesday is likely going to be hotter than Wall Street expects, he added.
“Right when you’re going into earnings you have this CPI bomb that could go off,” he said. “We have a demand problem and a supply problem; there are too many dollars chasing too few goods.”