Stocks edged lower on Wall Street on a wobbly day of trading Tuesday as investors wait for more data on inflation and corporate earnings this week.
The major indexes were wavering between small gains and losses. The S&P 500 was down 0.1% as of 3:36 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 64 points, or 0.2%, to 34,431 and the Nasdaq was flat.
A mix of retailers and other companies that rely on direct consumer spending gained ground. Ford rose 3.4% and Lowe’s rose 0.8%. Real estate and energy companies also rose, but those gains were offset by several big technology and communications stocks falling. Facebook fell 0.5%, AT&T slid 2.3% and Google’s parent company Alphabet was down 1.7%.
U.S. crude oil prices closed above $80 a barrel. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.58% from 1.60% late Friday. The bond market was closed on Monday for Columbus Day.
European markets were mostly lower and Asian markets also closed mostly lower.
The broader market has been choppy for weeks. Investors are trying to figure out how the economy will continue its recovery with COVID-19 remaining a threat and rising inflation potentially crimping consumer spending and corporate finances. The latest round of earnings reports will give Wall Street a clearer picture of how companies fared in the most recent quarter amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. It will also shed some light on how they expect to perform through the rest of the year.
JPMorgan Chase will kick off earnings for banks on Wednesday. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup will follow with their latest quarterly results on Thursday.
Investors will also be closely watching the latest updates on inflation from the Labor Department. It will release its Consumer Price Index for September on Wednesday, which is a gauge of how inflation is pressuring costs for consumers. Additional information on inflation pressures for businesses will be released on Thursday when the Labor Department releases its Producer Price Index.
A wide range of industries are feeling the pinch from rising inflation with higher costs for shipping and raw materials. Many companies have warned that their financial results could suffer because of the supply chain problems.
The supply chain crunch has also raised prices on many goods for consumers, which could hurt consumer spending and further stunt the economic recovery. Investors will get an update on consumer spending when the Commerce Department releases its retail sales report for September on Friday.
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