Wall Street falls from records after data shows inflation spike

People walk through Times Square on July 13, 2021 in New York City.
People walk through Times Square on July 13, 2021 in New York City.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Major United States stock indexes closed lower on Tuesday (July 13) after government data showed inflation continued to climb last month, overshadowing big earnings announcements from major banks.

The day began with the Labour Department report showing the Consumer Price Index spiked 5.4 per cent, not seasonally adjusted, over the 12 months ended last month, its highest rate since August 2008.

Even though top Federal Reserve officials say the big price increases will be temporary, persistently high inflation could cause policymakers to back away from the massive stimulus policies that markets have come to love since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

All three major indexes had ended at records on Monday, but at the close of trading Tuesday the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.3 per cent lower at 34,888.79.

The broad-based S&P 500 lost 0.4 per cent to end at 4,369.21, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.4 per cent to 14,677.65.

Many of the price increases were concentrated in sectors that experienced major declines during the pandemic shutdowns and are now seeing a resurgence in demand.

But National Securities' Art Hogan said the high reading was enough to spook markets.

"While it's easy to explain away a lot of the pieces that made that print, it's certainly added some concern to the broader market in general that perhaps inflation will be less transitory than we thought," he said.

Major US companies are reporting second-quarter earnings this week, and before markets opened, Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase announced soaring profits compared with the same period of last year.

However, Goldman's stock closed 1.2 per cent lower and JPMorgan lost 1.5 per cent in what Hogan said was a "sell the news reaction" that is a consequence of investors pricing in the positive performance.

Boeing lost 4.2 per cent after saying it will temporarily reduce production of its 787 Dreamliner after identifying a new issue with the jet during inspections.