Wall St drops as growth stocks slide, Target weighs on retail shares

Wall St drops as growth stocks slide, Target weighs on retail shares
-A +A

BENGALURU (Aug 17): Wall Street's main indexes fell on Wednesday as growth stocks came under pressure after bond yields climbed ahead of minutes from the Federal Reserve's (Fed) July meeting, while weak results from Target dragged the retail sector lower.

Retail earnings have been mixed so far this week, with Target Corp falling 3.3% after reporting a 90% slump in quarterly earnings as its inflation-hit customers reined in spending on discretionary goods.

The S&P 500 retail sector declined 1.7%, after jumping 1.9% in the previous session on encouraging quarterly earnings from Walmart Inc and Home Depot Inc.

Data showed US retail sales were unchanged in July as declining gasoline prices weighed on receipts at service stations. However, consumer spending appeared to be holding up, which could further ease fears the economy was in recession.

High-growth and technology stocks such as Amazon.com Inc and Nvidia Corp fell more than 2.5% each as US Treasury yields rose for the second straight session.

Investors anticipate that the Fed minutes will likely reaffirm the central bank's focus on hiking rates until inflation is under control.

"We've got a long way to go to get down from an 8% inflation print to somewhere where normalised rates are," said Charlie Ryan, portfolio manager at Evercore Wealth Management.

"The biggest risk is what do we do if we get a bad inflation print this month without the Fed meeting."

Most of the major S&P 500 sectors were trading in the red by midday, while energy stocks edged higher tracking gains in crude prices.

The S&P 500 has recovered nearly 17% from its mid-June lows, with the latest boost coming from hopes that inflation has peaked after softer-than-expected data earlier this month.

The benchmark index also came close to breaking above its 200-day moving average on Tuesday, a key technical level it has not closed above since early April.

Traders see a near equal chance of a 50-basis-point and a 75-basis-point hike by the Fed in September.

At 12.03pm ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 273.08 points, or 0.8%, at 33,878.93; the S&P 500 was down 45.89 points, or 1.07%, at 4,259.31; and the Nasdaq Composite was down 217.65 points, or 1.66%, at 12,884.90.

Upbeat corporate earnings have also helped fuel a rebound for US stocks this quarter, but some investors are pointing to potential risks ahead for profits that could sap momentum.

Home improvement chain Lowe's Cos Inc rose 0.8% on posting a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 6.06-to-1 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange and a 3.96-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded three new 52-week highs and 29 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 24 new highs and 41 new lows.