Dow falls for third straight day as investors await inflation data, bank earnings

The three major U.S. stock indexes closed lower for a third consecutive session Tuesday ahead of a key inflation reading and a kick-off to third-quarter earnings season.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 117.72 points, or 0.3%, to 34,378.34. The S&P 500 ticked down 0.2% to 4,350.65. The Nasdaq Composite closed 0.1% lower at 14,465.92.

The averages traded near the flatline for much of Tuesday’s session before selling picked up into the close.

Markets were “mostly in wait-and-see mode” ahead of report releases this week, Bank of America said.

“Headlines are fairly quiet today as the market awaits several upcoming catalysts like September CPI and retail sales, the latest FOMC minutes, and the start of the Q3 earnings season,” Stifel analysts said in a note.

The consumer price index for September is slated to be announced Wednesday morning. Economists expect prices for an array of consumer goods to jump 0.3% in September from the month prior and 5.3% year over year, according to Dow Jones.

The Federal Open Market Committee on Wednesday is also set to release its minutes from the September meeting. Investors will be digesting the minutes for any potential clues regarding the central bank’s plans to pull back easy monetary policy.

JPMorgan Chase and Delta Air Lines are scheduled to kick off the third-quarter earnings season Wednesday with reports before the bell.

Other major companies reporting quarterly financial results later this week include Bank of America, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs.

“There are a lot of headwinds out there as we embark on corporate earnings, and traders will be looking for any and all indications of guidance — especially as the threat of slower growth looms large,” said Chris Larkin, managing director of trading at E-Trade Financial.

Earnings growth is expected to grow about 30% year over year this quarter following a 96.3% expansion in the second quarter, according to Refinitiv.

“Expectations for third-quarter earnings have been coming down in recent weeks and that should create some room for upside surprises, which is good for overall market sentiment,” said Rod von Lipsey, managing director at UBS Private Wealth Management.

The three major indexes’ losing streak comes as inflation and economic growth concerns loom.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut its global growth forecast, citing supply chain challenges and persistent Covid spread.

“We’re seeing major supply disruptions around the world that are also feeding inflationary pressures, which are quite high and financial risk taking also is increasing, which poses an additional risk to the outlook,” IMF economist Gita Gopinath said in a press release.

The IMF said central banks like the Federal Reserve should be prepared to tighten monetary policy if inflation runs too hot.

Job openings in August fell 659,000 to 10.4 million, according to the Labor Department’s latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey released Tuesday.

The stock market went through a bumpy ride in September, with the S&P 500 falling nearly 4.8% for its worst month since March 2020 and breaking a seven-month winning streak. The benchmark has recovered somewhat in October, up over 1% for the month.

But the rebound has stalled out a bit in recent days. Wall Street major strategists are seeing muted returns for the rest of 2021 as the average year-end S&P 500 target stands at 4,433, less than 2% from Tuesday’s close, according to the CNBC Market Strategist Survey.

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