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Wednesday January 19th, 2022 8:24PM

Stocks wobble as Wall Street heads for a mixed weekly finish

By The Associated Press
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Stocks wobbled in afternoon trading on Wall Street Friday and major indexes were on track for a mixed finish to a choppy week.

The S&P 500 was down 0.1% as of 3:37 p.m. Eastern. The benchmark index was just below the all-time high it set on Thursday and on pace for a modest weekly gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 249 points, or 0.7%, to 35,621 and the Nasdaq rose 0.4%.

Smaller-company stocks fell. The Russell 2000 shed 0.7%.

Technology stocks powered much of the gains in the S&P 500, though they were outweighed by losses elsewhere in the market as more than half of the stocks in the index fell. TurboTax maker Intuit jumped 9.4% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after raising its profit forecast for its fiscal year. Software maker Adobe rose 2.9%.

Several companies that rely on direct consumer spending for goods and services also rose. Tesla rose 3.3% and Nike rose 2.3%.

Moderna jumped 4.6% and Pfizer fell 0.9% after the Food and Drug Administration opened up coronavirus booster shots from the two companies to all adults.

Bond yields fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.54% from 1.59% late Thursday.

Falling bond yields weighed down banks, which rely on higher yields to charge more lucrative interest on loans. Bank of America fell 2.2% and JPMorgan Chase dropped 1.3%.

Financial sector stocks accounted for a big share of the S&P 500's decliners. Energy stocks also weighed down the index as U.S. crude oil prices fell 3.7%. Exxon Mobil shed 4.7%.

It’s been a choppy week for Wall Street as investors reviewed earnings from a range of retailers to essentially close out the latest round of corporate report cards. More than 95% of companies in the S&P 500 have reported their latest quarterly results. Companies have reported overall earnings growth of about 40%, outpacing analysts’ forecasts for 23% growth made back in June.

Investors have been shifting their focus to rising inflation and that has pushed stocks into a bumpier path after weeks of solid gains. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, which both closed at record highs on Thursday, are on track for weekly gains after swaying between gains and losses throughout the week.

The Dow and Russell 2000 are headed for weekly losses.

“There’s still a wide range of outcomes and perspectives around whether inflation is becoming more imbedded and durable or will be transitory,” said Bill Northey, senior investment director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

He said there has been more consideration around potential policy adjustments that might be necessary for the Federal Reserve as it moves ahead with its plan to trim bond purchases that have helped keep interest rates low. The central bank will likely need to adapt its future plans if rising inflation becomes more problematic.

Businesses are facing higher raw materials costs and supply chain problems that have been cutting into operations. That has raised concerns that a wide range of industries could see growth stunted into 2022.

The latest examples include Williams-Sonoma. The seller of cookware and home furnishings warned investors that supply chain problems could hurt its inventory through the middle of 2022. The stock fell 1.2%.

Applied Materials fell 5.5% after reporting weak financial results and a disappointing profit forecast partly because of supply chain problems.

“Those (supply chain) problems will likely clear over time, but they may not clear in time for the holiday season," Northey said. “That may cause demand to be unmet or shift to early next year.”

Wall Street is also worried about consumers eventually pulling back on spending because of higher prices. Prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.2% in October compared with a year earlier, leaving families facing their highest inflation rate since 1990, the Labor Department said.

The higher prices have yet to derail consumer spending, though, and retail sales jumped 1.7% in October, according to the Commerce Department. That was the biggest month-to-month gain since March.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Financial Markets
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