Wall St lower, long-term inflation threat

·3-min read

Wall Street has closed sharply lower as surging consumer prices curbed investor risk appetite and stoked worries of a protracted wave of red-hot inflation.

All three major US stock indexes fell, extending their losses throughout the trading day and adding to Tuesday's sell-off which snapped the S&P 500's and Nasdaq's eight-session runs of all-time closing highs.

"It's not surprising after what was truly a historic run for the market to take a pause," said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird in Louisville, Kentucky.

"But we do think there are enough tailwinds heading into year-end to move the market higher."

The Labour Department's consumer price index delivered a hotter-than-expected jump of 0.9 per cent and the fastest year-on-year gain in 31 years.

The report hinted the persistently tangled global supply chain could result in the current inflation wave taking longer to abate than many - including the US Federal Reserve - had hoped.

"The inflation story is really the driver (for) all things," Mayfield added.

"It will affect Fed policy and fiscal policy, it's the driver of interest rates. It's hard to talk about anything but inflation."

Gregory Daco, chief economist of Oxford Economics, believes current price spikes have some staying power.

"Things will continue to get worse before they get better in terms of the inflation outlook because we don't see core inflation peaking until sometime in early 2022," he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 240.04 points, or 0.66 per cent, to 36,079.94, the S&P 500 lost 38.54 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 4,646.71 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 263.84 points, or 1.66 per cent, to 15,622.71.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500 eight closed red, with energy suffering the biggest percentage losses. Utilities led the gainers.

Tech weighed heaviest on the S&P 500, with megacaps Apple and Microsoft among the biggest drags.

Third-quarter earnings season has reached the final stretch, and of the companies having reported 81 per cent have beaten street expectations.

Disney shares dropped more than 4 per cent in after-hours trading after the media company reported disappointing streaming subscriber numbers.

Tesla rose 4.3 per cent, reversing several sessions of declines in the wake of CEO Elon Musk polling Twitter users on whether he should sell 10 per cent of the company he founded.

The rise comes as rival electric vehicle maker Rivian Automotive made a splash as a publicly traded company, raising $US12 billion. Its shares surged 29.1 per cent.

Retail trading platform Robinhood plunged 6 per cent, adding to its losses two days after reporting a security breach affecting five million customers.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.26-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.50-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 26 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 95 new highs and 121 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 11.72 billion shares, compared with the 10.89 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

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