By Johann M Cherian and Sruthi Shankar
(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main stock indexes fell on Wednesday after stronger-than-expected retail sales data offered more evidence of resilience in the U.S. economy, fueling worries that the U.S. Federal Reserve could stick to its rate-hike campaign.
A Commerce Department report showed retail sales surged 3% in January, driven by purchases of motor vehicles and other goods. Economists polled by Reuters had estimated a sales would increase by 1.8%.
“These numbers (retail sales) beat consensus by a long shot and it just shows that the consumer is still in a good spot,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.
“As a result of that, you see the yields are backing up and the dollar is strengthening. Obviously, if this trend continues, it just reinforces the notion that the Fed is going to continue to raise rates.”
The benchmark S&P 500 came under pressure on Tuesday after data showed U.S. consumer prices accelerated in January, boosting expectations that the U.S. central bank will raise the policy rate at least twice more this year to the 5-5.25% range.
Still, the index is up 7.7% so far this year after a 19.4% slump in 2022 as investors snapped up battered growth stocks, while a better-than-expected earnings season added to the cheer.
Of the more than half of the S&P 500 firms that have reported earnings so far, nearly 70% have topped profit expectations, as per Refinitiv data. The long-term average is 66.3%.
At 10:15 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 202.62 points, or 0.59%, at 33,886.65, the S&P 500 was down 24.29 points, or 0.59%, at 4,111.84, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 55.30 points, or 0.46%, at 11,904.85.
All the major 11 S&P 500 sectors slid, with the energy sector leading declines, shedding 2.1%, tracking weak oil prices. [O/R]
U.S.-listed shares of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) fell 6.4% after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc slashed its stake in the chipmaker.
Shares of Airbnb Inc and Tripadvisor Inc rose 12.2% and 2.1%, respectively, after the companies posted forecast-beating results due to strong travel demand.
Devon Energy slumped 11.9% after the shale oil producer missed expectations for quarterly profit due to a hit to production from severe cold weather in the United States and higher expenses.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.51-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.54-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded six new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 25 new highs and 31 new lows.
(Reporting by Johann M Cherian and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Shristi Achar A; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Anil D’Silva)