U.S. Stocks: Wall Street opens lower on recovery fears as focus turns to Fed

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August 18, 2021 8:29 PM

Data on Wednesday showed U.S. homebuilding fell more than expected in July, the latest indication that surging construction costs and home prices continued to constrain the housing market early in the third quarter.

U.S. Stocks: Wall Street opens lower on recovery fears as focus turns to FedThe Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 33.1 points, or 0.09%, at the open to 35310.2. (AP Photo/File)

U.S. stock indexes were flat in choppy trading on Wednesday as investors refrained from making big bets ahead of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting that will likely show the path of monetary policy support over the next few months.

Microsoft, Nvidia Corp and Tesla, which led Wall Street’s rally from pandemic lows last year, helped the market offset some losses.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors fell in early trading. Energy shares led declines, adding to a 4.4% fall in the past four sessions amid fears of slowing global growth.

Banking stocks were flat.

The S&P 500 consumer discretionary sector added 0.8%, after falling 2.3% on Tuesday. Lowe’s Cos Inc and Tesla provided the biggest boost to the index.

Lowe’s jumped 10.1% after it forecast full-year sales above estimates on higher spending from builders and handymen getting back to housing projects.

After six straight months of gains for the S&P 500, trading on Wall Street’s main indexes has been more volatile in August – a seasonally weak period for financial markets – as concerns about slowing U.S. growth and the spread of the Delta variant took the shine off a solid corporate earnings season.

Focus on Wednesday will be on the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting, with investors looking for insight into the central bank’s debate over when to end its pandemic-era emergency programs amid a stronger recovery in the jobs market and higher inflation.

“You have the inflation pressure on one hand, and then you offset some of that with the depression that’s coming through from the Delta variant to some degree. That’s creating some of the gyrations in the market,” said Johan Grahn, head of ETF Strategy at AllianzIM in Minneapolis.

Analysts expect the Fed to announce its plan for a “taper” of its asset purchases as early as its Sept. 21-22 meeting.

Data on Wednesday showed U.S. homebuilding fell more than expected in July, the latest indication that surging construction costs and home prices continued to constrain the housing market early in the third quarter.

At 10:14 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.22 points, or -0.00%, at 35,342.06, the S&P 500 was up 2.87 points, or 0.06%, at 4,450.95, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 7.46 points, or 0.05%, at 14,663.64.

Target Corp slipped 0.3% despite beating analysts’ estimates for same-store sales. The retailer’s stock has jumped about 44% year-to-date.

Earnings reports from online brokerage Robinhood Markets Inc, chipmaker Nvidia, network gear maker Cisco Systems Inc, lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret & Co and Bath & Body Works are due after market close on Wednesday.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.24-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.23-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 23 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 26 new highs and 92 new lows.

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