July 20th, 2024

Stock market today: Wall Street sinks again as hopes for imminent rate cuts dim a bit

By Yuri Kageyama, The Associated Press on January 17, 2024.

NEW YORK (AP) – Wall Street is slipping again after a stronger-than-expected report on the U.S. economy weakened hopes that easier interest rates would arrive soon. The S&P 500 was 0.7% lower early Wednesday and on track for a second straight drop. The Dow fell 138 points, and the Nasdaq composite was off 0.9%. Rising yields in the bond market again put downward pressure on stocks. Yields climbed after a report showed sales at U.S. retailers were stronger last month than economists expected, which could keep upward pressure on inflation. That could push the Federal Reserve to wait longer than traders expect to begin cutting rates.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Wall Street pointed lower early Wednesday following market declines in Asia and Europe.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and for the S&P 500 each fell 0.4% before the bell.

Investors were anticipating upcoming earnings reports, as well as potential moves by the world’s central banks, to gauge their next moves.

Companies across the S&P 500 are likely to report meager growth in profits for the fourth quarter from a year earlier, if any, if Wall Street analysts’ forecasts are to be believed. Earnings have been under pressure for more than a year because of rising costs amid high inflation.

But optimism is higher for 2024, where analysts are forecasting a strong 11.8% growth in earnings per share for S&P 500 companies, according to FactSet. That, plus expectations for several cuts to interest rates by the Federal Reserve this year, have helped the S&P 500 rally to 10 winning weeks in the last 11. The index remains within 0.6% of its all-time high set two years ago

For now, traders are penciling in many more cuts to rates through 2024 than the Fed itself has indicated. That raises the potential for big market swings around each speech by a Fed official or economic report.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost earlier gains on profit-taking and finished down 0.4% at 35,477.75. The Nikkei earlier in the day hit a new 34-year high, or the best since February 1990 during the so-called financial “bubble.” Buying had focused on semiconductor-related shares, and a cheap yen helped boost some exporter issues.

Official Chinese data released Wednesday showed that the Chinese economy grew 5.2% for 2023, surpassing the target of “about 5%” that the government had set. That growth was likely helped by 2022’s GDP of just 3% as China’s economy slowed due to COVID-19 and nationwide lockdowns during the pandemic.

“Investors’ expectations for China’s economic growth have declined,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management. “The headwinds facing China’s economy in 2023 have not subsided, and the geopolitical environment may become more contentious.”

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude lost $1.72 to $70.68 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell $1.64 to $76.65 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 147.96 Japanese yen from 147.09 yen. The euro cost $1.0854, down from $1.0880.

In Europe at midday, Germany’s DAX lost 1% while France’s CAC40 declined 1.1% and Britain’s FTSE 100 tumbled 1.7%.

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