Wall Street dips on rate hike uncertainty

Wall Street dips on rate hike uncertainty
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NEW YORK (Nov 17): Wall Street indexes fell on Wednesday as investors fretted over early rate hikes by the Federal Reserve after strong retail earnings, while Visa weighed on the Dow after Amazon said it would stop accepting cards issued by the operator in the UK.

Target Corp was the latest big-name retailer to report positive results, as it raised its annual forecasts and beat profit expectations, citing an early start to holiday shopping.

But shares of the retailer fell 5.1% as its third-quarter margins were hit by supply-chain issues.

Lowe's Cos Inc rose 2% after the home improvement chain raised its full-year sales forecast on higher demand from builders and contractors, as well as a strong US housing market.

Visa Inc fell 5% and was the biggest drag on the Dow after Amazon.com Inc said it would stop accepting credit cards issued by the world's largest payment processor in the United Kingdom from next year due to the high fees charged for transactions.

Wall Street indexes had ended higher on Tuesday after data showed retail sales jumped in October, and Walmart and Home Depot both flagged strength in consumer demand going into the holiday season.

"While this week hasn't been super exciting from a return standpoint, I do feel like the data is confirmatory in terms of a good backdrop for stocks ... everything is kind of on all cylinders to end the year strong," said Stephanie Lang, chief investment officer at wealth management firm Homrich Berg.

Although data this week showed that a rise in inflation has not stifled economic growth so far, any further gains in prices could potentially dampen an economic recovery.

Contrasting comments from Fed Presidents James Bullard and Mary Daly on Tuesday also brewed more uncertainty in markets.

CME Group's Fedwatch tool sees a 20.9% probability of a rate hike by the Fed in its March 2022 meet, up from an 11.8% probability last month.

"I don't think you can have a foregone conclusion that we're going to go directly from tapering to rate hikes. However, the market seems to be pricing that in and a lot of that is really just around inflation data that has been so strong recently," Homrich Berg's Lang said.

Strong retail earnings this week will round off an upbeat third-quarter earnings season, which had pushed Wall Street indexes to record highs.

At 10.06am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.35% or 124.76 points at 36,017.46 and the S&P 500 was down 11.28 points, or 0.24%, at 4,689.62. The Nasdaq Composite was down 27.25 points, or 0.17%, at 15,946.61.

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Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.14-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.98-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 20 new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 63 new highs and 87 new lows.