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Monday, December 4, 2023

Stocks wobble as Wall Street heads for a mixed weekly finish

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Stocks wobbled in afternoon trading on Wall Street Friday and major indexes were on track for a mixed finish to a choppy week.

The S&P 500 rose 0.1% as of 12:07 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 187 points, or 0.5%, to 35,682 and the Nasdaq rose 0.7%.

Smaller-company stocks fell more than the broader market. The Russell 2000 fell 0.6%.

Technology stocks made solid gains. TurboTax maker Intuit jumped 9.8% after raising its profit forecast for its fiscal year. Software maker Adobe rose 3.7%.

Several companies that rely on direct consumer spending for goods and services also made solid gains. Amazon rose 1.5% and Nike rose 3%.

Moderna jumped 4.7% and Pfizer added 0.6% after the Food and Drug Administration opened up coronavirus booster shots from the two companies to all adults.

Bond yields fell significantly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.53% from 1.59% late Thursday.

Falling bond yields weighed down banks, which rely on higher yields to charge more lucrative interest on loans. Bank of America fell 1.9%.

U.S. crude oil prices fell 3.7% and sent energy stocks lower. Exxon Mobil shed 4.6%.

It’s been a choppy week for Wall Street as investors reviewed earnings from a range of retailers to essentially close out the latest round of corporate report cards. More than 95% of companies in the S&P 500 have reported their latest quarterly results. Companies have reported overall earnings growth of about 40%, outpacing analysts’ forecasts for 23% growth made back in June.

Investors have been shifting their focus to rising inflation and that has pushed stocks into a bumpier path after weeks of solid gains. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, which both closed at record highs on Thursday, are on track for weekly gains after swaying between gains and losses throughout the week.

The Dow and Russell 2000 are headed for weekly losses.

Businesses are facing higher raw materials costs and supply chain problems that have been cutting into operations. That has raised concerns that a wide range of industries could see growth stunted into 2022. The latest examples include Williams-Sonoma, which shed 1.2% after the seller of cookware and home furnishings warned investors that supply chain problems could hurt its inventory through the middle of 2022.

Applied Materials fell 2.1% after reporting weak financial results and a disappointing profit forecast partly because of supply chain problems.

Wall Street is also worried about consumers eventually pulling back on spending because of higher prices. Prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.2% in October compared with a year earlier, leaving families facing their highest inflation rate since 1990, the Labor Department said.

The higher prices have yet to derail consumer spending, though, and retail sales jumped 1.7% in October, according to the Commerce Department. That was the biggest month-to-month gain since March.

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