The stock market fell on Wednesday, with the recent rally on Wall Street taking a breather as investors assessed the latest batch of retail earnings—particularly a sharp drop in profits from Target—and minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July policy meeting.
Stocks reversed some of their gains from earlier this week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.5%, nearly 200 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.7% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite 1.3%.
Markets opened lower after a batch of disappointing retail earnings, with Lowe’s reporting a drop in sales while big-box retailer Target said profits plunged 90% compared to a year ago amid steep discounts to offload excess inventory.
“We’ve seen mixed results out of retailers and the big questions are whether the consumer will keep spending and how will they re-allocate their purchases as inflation continues to impact spending choices,” says Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance .
Investors combed through new economic data from the Census Bureau on Wednesday showing that retail sales were flat in July: Auto sales and gas prices declined, although consumers did do more shopping online.
Markets also failed to rally after the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting in July, when the central bank hiked interest rates by 75 basis points for a second time this summer.
Fed officials indicated that they would continue their aggressive interest rate-hiking campaign until there was more clear evidence that inflation has come down significantly.