U.S. stocks wobbled Tuesday, with the major indexes hovering around the flatline, while
prices edged lower again after a period of volatile trading.The S&P 500 slipped 8.92 points, or 0.2%, to 4188.13, and Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down 81.52 points, 0.2%, to 34312.46. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 4 points, or less than 0.1%, to 13657.17. All three indexes had opened modestly higher before losing steam. Stocks jumped to start the week, with recent comments from Federal Reserve officials helping to ease concerns that rising inflation could stamp out growth or prompt the central bank to suddenly tighten policy.
“The comments we have had from Fed speakers have told the market exactly what it wants to hear: that they are not concerned about the inflation data and that it hasn’t changed their plan to be very cautious,” said Hugh Gimber, a strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
Bitcoin prices edged lower following several days of whipsaw trading for cryptocurrency markets. Bitcoin edged down to $37,507, according to CoinDesk, dropping from $38,999 as of 5 p.m. ET Monday.
“There’s a lot of fairly concentrated speculative bets the market has been making,” said Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth at Glenmede. “Last year it was all about tech and growth, then it transitioned to SPACs, then it transitioned to bitcoin, and now we’re seeing some of that unwind.”
New data on the U.S. housing market indicated home-price growth climbed in March to the highest level in 15 years. Even as early indications suggest home sales are cooling off, strong demand for housing continues to outpace supply. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index showed a double-digit annual increase for the fourth straight month.
“There’s this overriding fear that exists in the market that it’s an economy that’s significantly overheating and big inflationary pressures are coming,” said
global market strategist at Invesco.
“When you see days like today, with housing cooling off a bit and rates down a bit and technology stocks outperforming, that’s a day that pushes back against that ‘massively overheating, massively inflationary environment’ narrative that has really gripped American and global investors.”
After a gain in April, new U.S. consumer confidence data for May remained mostly unchanged, signaling Americans’ optimism for the economy has plateaued slightly.
In corporate news, shares of Moderna rose 2.8% after the drugmaker said its Covid-19 vaccine was effective in children between the ages of 12 and 17.
dropped 9% after the electric-truck startup said it was facing higher-than-expected costs and cut its 2021 production forecast.
slipped 2.1%, despite news the auto-parts retailer’s sales beat expectations.
As the vaccine rollout continues and the country reopens, sales of cruise lines increased, with shares of
Royal Caribbean Group
rising nearly 3.6%. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and Carnival added 3.5% and 2.6%, respectively.
”There’s a lot of pent-up demand,” Mr. Levitt said. “You hear about it and we all feel it. Americans want to stay in hotels, go to salons and spend their money.”
Brent crude oil, the global oil benchmark, ticked up 0.3% to $68.65 a barrel. Gold, a typical hedge against inflation, edged up 0.7% to $1898.10 a troy ounce.
U.S. government bond yields fell. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note declined to 1.563% from 1.608% Monday. Yields move inversely to prices.
Overseas, the Stoxx Europe 600 rose less than 0.1%. In China, the Shanghai Composite Index jumped 2.4%, its biggest one-day gain since October, bringing it to its highest closing level in three months.
Chinese authorities have voiced concerns in recent days about rising prices for raw materials such as iron ore and copper, which has helped soothe investors’ concerns about inflation, said Steven Leung, executive director of institutional sales at UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.7%, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng gained 1.8%.
Recent Federal Reserve comments have helped ease concerns that rising inflation could stamp out growth.
Courtney Crow/NYSE/Xinhua/Zuma Press
—Joanne Chiu contributed to this article.
Write to Will Horner at William.Horner@wsj.com and Julia Carpenter at Julia.Carpenter@wsj.com
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