U.S. stocks were cautiously higher early Monday as wariness over inflation and rate rises suppressed risk appetite.
How stocks are trading
- The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA,
+0.62%rose 90 points, or 0.3%, to 33,959.
- The S&P 500 SPX,
+0.54%was up 11 points, or 0.3%, at 4,102.
- The Nasdaq Composite COMP,
+0.64%gained 50 points, or 0.4%, to trade at 11,768.
The Nasdaq last week saw a 2.4% fall, ending a string of five straight weekly gains, while the S&P 500 shed 1.1% and the Dow lost 0.2%. Stocks remain up solidly for the new year.
What’s driving markets
Investors remained wary about the prospects for more interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve as they await the January consumer price inflation report due on Tuesday.
Stocks fell last week as traders noted a tick up in bond yields that suggested the U.S. central bank may have to increase borrowing costs by more than recently thought.
See: Why the stock market’s ‘FOMO’ rally paused and what will decide its fate
That caution was carrying through into the new week as futures pointed to the Fed taking borrowing costs to 5.2% by August. A few weeks ago that terminal rate was seen below 5%, a lower peak that had encouraged stocks to rally hard at the start of the year.
“Given the hawkish tone to last week’s Fedspeak, all eyes will be on Tuesday’s CPI report for January. Traders will think a more robust CPI print would look less like a one-off and more like part of a trend, which could have a more pronounced impact on the market’s view of the terminal,” said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, in a weekend note.
“Indeed, this week’s U.S. inflation data has the potential to move like a wrecking ball through a market with a more relaxed inflation outlook that investors have been enjoying in recent months,” Innes added.
Read: Inflation data rocked the U.S. stock market in 2022: What investors need to know about Tuesday’s reading
Economists forecast that the headline annual CPI inflation will fall from 6.5% in December to 6.2%. “If U.S. inflation hasn’t eased, or eased enough, or God forbid, ticked unexpectedly higher on yearly basis, we could rapidly see the post-NFP optimism, and the pricing on the goldilocks scenario to leave its place to fear and chaos,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.
Otherwise, it’s a slow start to the week for U.S. economic updates, with just the New York Fed 1-year and 5-year inflation expectations survey due for release at 11 a.m. Eastern.
Investors are also continuing to absorb the fallout from the fourth-quarter earnings season. So far, 69% of the S&P 500 have delivered their results and the outcome is lackluster, noted John Butters, senior earnings analyst at FactSet.
“Of these companies, 69% have reported actual EPS (earnings per share) above the mean EPS estimate, which is below the 5-year average of 77% and below the 10- year average of 73%. In aggregate, earnings have exceeded estimates by 1.1%, which is also below the 5-year average of 8.6% and below the 10-year average of 6.4%,” Butters said.
Some analysts expressed concern about the technical condition of the market after its latest relapse.
“The SPX [S&P 500] broke out above 4,100 in early February, but closed below it last week. That creates the potential for a ‘false breakout,’” wrote Jonathan Krinsky, chief technical strategist at BTIG in a note to clients.
“This comes as momentum is rolling over, rates and the dollar are breaking out, we are entering a seasonally weak period, and sentiment/positioning has come a long way from late December. Coming into this year we thought one of the key themes would be market’s focus shifting from inflation and the Fed to a weakening economy. At this point that view looks to be premature with yields attempting to breakout, commodities resilient, and stocks breaking lower,” he added.
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Companies in focus
- Shares of Nikola Corp. NKLA,
-0.62%were down 1%, after The Wall Street Journal over the weekend reported that the electric-vehicle maker has started work on hydrogen plants that would be part of a fueling network.
- Shares of Meta Platforms Inc. META,
+2.16%rose 3%, after the Financial Times reported that the social media giant had delayed setting up some team budgets as it prepares for a new round of job cuts.
- Merchant-acquiring company Fidelity National Information Services Inc. FIS,
-15.18%plans to spin off its Worldpay merchant business, the company announced Monday. Shares were down 13.9%.