U.S. stocks were modestly higher Wednesday afternoon while Treasury yields slipped, weighing on banks stocks, despite data showing high September inflation.
Investors also were awaiting minutes from the Federal Reserve due at 2 p.m. ET
How are stock indexes trading?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
rose 7 points, or less than 0.1%, at 34,387.
The S&P 500
rose 13 points, or 0.3%, at around 4,363.
The Nasdaq Composite Index
climbed 96 points, or 0.7%, to about 14,562.
What’s driving the market?
Stocks were modestly higher in afternoon trade, with declining Treasury yields benefiting shares of information technology companies but pressuring those of banks that benefit when yields are higher.
The decline in Treasury yields, with the 10-year Treasury note
at 1.55%, comes as investors were parsing third-quarter U.S. corporate earnings, as concerns about supply-chain problems and labor shortages threaten to dent corporate profits.
“This is the start of a pivotal time for the next couple of weeks, as we start to get a look into what corporations have experienced and what they are anticipating they will experience over the next six months,” Wayne Wicker, chief investment officer at MissionSquare Retirement, said in a phone interview.
“That’s why you see people waffling right now. You have mixed messages on whether the economy has seen peak earnings and if inflation will eat away at margins and earnings decline,” he said.
“Stock selection is going to be a more important ingredient in the fourth quarter, because not everything is going to go straight up.”
Wall Street has been weighing a closely watched reading on inflation that came in hotter than expected.
Data showed that the U.S. consumer-price index rose 0.4% in September after climbing 0.3% in August, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. In the 12 months through September, the CPI increased 5.4% after advancing 5.3% year-over-year in August.
Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI climbed 0.2% after edging up 0.1% in August, the smallest gain in six months. The so-called core CPI rose 4.0% on a year-on-year basis after increasing 4.0% in August.
Higher prices for food, gasoline and rent drove most of the advance. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 03% increase in the CPI.
“Wednesday’s still elevated Consumer Price Index marks about 6-months worth of hot inflation data, suggesting that inflation is not as transitory as many investors previously expected,” wrote Nancy Davis, founder of Quadratic Capital Management, in emailed comments on Wednesday.
Corporations have been increasingly mentioning the impact of pricing pressures on earnings updates and investors have been eagerly listening for guidance from C-suite executives on the outlook for inflation.
results were better than Wall Street forecasts on earnings per share as it released another $2.1 billion of loan loss reserves. Its shares, however, were down 2.7%.
On the flip side, if other major banks release loan loss reserves, that’s a bullish sign about the health of the U.S. economy, Wicker said.
“I think the pattern has been signaling the coast is pretty clear,” he said. “We really didn’t experience the kind of loan losses that a year-and-a-half ago we had to prepare for.”
Analysts expect S&P 500 index earnings to rise 27.6% annually, a pace markedly slower than a 52.8% gain in the first quarter and 92.4% in the second quarter, which both benefited from favorable comparisons with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Bank of America has warned that guidance from companies could be ugly amid a “make or break quarter.”
Later on Wednesday, investors will get the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes. That could “reiterate the Fed’s willingness to start tapering the bond purchases soon and could give a further insight regarding the need and the possibility of seeing the rate normalization happen before 2023,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote, in a note to clients.
Davis said that Wednesday’s inflation data is unlikely to change the Federal Reserve’s view on tapering, with expectations that the central bank will announce plans to reduce its monthly purchases in November and end buys by the middle of 2022 as it gears up to eventually normalize interest rates.
“The Fed is already expected to announce its tapering plans and the central bank likely wants to preserve optionality with their hiking cycle, Quadratic’s Davis said.
What companies are in focus?
- Shares of tech giant Apple AAPL fell 0.7% after Bloomberg reported late Tuesday that the tech giant will cut iPhone 13 production due to global chip supply shortages.
Shares of Qualcomm Inc.
rose 2% after the chip maker said its board had authorized $10 billion in share repurchases.
Shares of Delta Air Lines Inc.
skid 5.6% after the air carrier reported its first adjusted profit since the COVID-19 pandemic, but said the recent rise in fuel prices will pressure its ability to stay profitable in the fourth quarter.
- BlackRock BLK shares climbed 3.7% after the investment giant reported beats on both profit and revenue expectations and more than 20% growth on assets under management.
How are other assets trading?
The ICE U.S. Dollar Index
a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, fell 0.5%.
U.S. oil futures lost steam, with the benchmark
down 0.2% at $80.42 a barrel. Gold futures
rose 1.9% to $1,793.10 an ounce, but were off the intraday highs.
The Stoxx Europe 600
closed 0.7% higher, while London’s FTSE 100
The Shanghai Composite
rose 0.4%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225
Barbara Kollmeyer contributed reporting