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Wall Street Ponders Lackluster Economic Data

U.S. stocks are set to rebound Wednesday morning amid the release of data on retail sales and wholesale inflation.

The Nasdaq broke a seven-day win streak yesterday, but futures are pointing to an upbeat session for tech stocks.

The major averages ended Tuesday firmly in negative territory. The Dow slid 171.58 points or 0.7 percent to 25,007.03, the Nasdaq tumbled 77.31 points or 1 percent to 7,511.01 and the S&P 500 dropped 17.71 points or 0.6 percent to 2,765.31.

The weakness on Wall Street came amid renewed geo-political concerns after President Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

"Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!" Trump tweeted.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index rose by 0.2 percent in February after climbing by 0.5 percent in January. Economists had expected consumer prices to rise by 0.2 percent.

Core consumer prices, which exclude food and energy prices, also edged up by 0.2 percent in February following a 0.3 percent increase in January. The uptick in core prices also matched expectations.

In corporate news this morning, Vera Bradley shares are set to jump after after earnings and revenue beat consensus.

France plans legal action against Apple and Google for "unfair business practices."

Starboard directors pledge to buy $25 million of Newell Brands stock if the board is replaced.

Other markets

Asian stocks fell across the board on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump blocked microchip maker Broadcom Ltd's proposed takeover of Qualcomm Inc on national security grounds and fired his secretary of state, sparking fears of protectionism. There were also reports that the Trump administration is eying hefty tariffs on Chinese imports.

Chinese shares fell as worries about Trump's protectionist trade policies overshadowed encouraging industrial output data. China's industrial output climbed 7.2 percent in the January to February period from a year ago, faster than the 6.2 percent rise in December, a government report showed. That was also above the 6.6 percent increase economists had forecast.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite index fell 18.86 points or 0.57 percent to close at 3,291.38 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 149 points or 0.47 percent in late trade.

European shares held steady on Wednesday as the euro retreated and better-than-expected Chinese industrial output data helped lift resource stocks.

The pan-European Stoxx Europe 600 index was up 0.1 percent at 375.84 in opening deals after losing 1 percent in the previous session.

The German DAX was marginally higher, France's CAC 40 index was up about 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 was rising 0.3 percent.


Economic News

U.S. retail sales fell for a third month in a row in February, according to figures from the Commerce Department.

Retail sales were off 0.1 percent, disappointing economists looking for growth of 0.4 percent.

However, if gas and autos are stripped out, retail sales edged higher by 0.3%, a sign of health in the broader economy.

Also, January's drop was revised to just 0.1% from the 0.3% drop that was initially reported.

U.S. wholesale prices rose slightly in February, roughly in line with the tepid growth seen in consumer prices.

Concerns about rapid inflation have been diminished by this week's price data.

On a monthly basis, the producer price index that measures wholesale inflation was up 0.2% following January's 0.4% increase. That's tepid but still more than the 0.1% growth expected by economists.


Commodities

Crude oil prices were up $0.50 at $61.21 a barrel. The Energy Department releases its U.S. inventories data later this morning.

Yesterday, industry group the American Petroleum Institute reported that U.S. crude supplies rose nearly 1.2 million barrels for the week ended March 9.

OPEC is warning that President Donald Trump's trade policies could hurt global economic growth and oil demand.

According to OPEC, "the most recent trade-related developments may provide challenges to the growth momentum as global trade has been an important factor contributing to the world economy."

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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