Stocks fell Thursday morning and the S&P 500 fell to its lowest level since 2020 after a key consumer inflation report came in hotter than expected, signaling that the Federal Reserve will likely continue with aggressive interest rate hikes.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 151 points, or 0.52%, and also briefly hit its lowest intraday level since November 2020. The S&P 500 slipped 1.04% and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 1.8%. Shares of large consumer companies led the losses as the inflation reading stoked fears that spending will take a hit. Amazon fell more than 3% while Home Depot and Costco slipped 2.5%.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury spiked above 4% as bonds sold off – yields are inverse to price.
The reversal in early gains came after the September consumer inflation report was higher than economists expected. The consumer price index increased 0.4% for the month, more than the 0.3% estimate from Dow Jones. On an annual basis, inflation was up 8.2%.
The report signals that inflation is a persistent problem even amid large interest rate hikes from the central bank. Going forward, the Fed will likely have to keep delivering increases and keep rates high until there are signs that inflation is cooling off.
“A lot of times you can try to find a silver lining in some of the numbers – I can’t. I think that’s why you’re seeing this truly atrocious reaction right now,” said Steve Sosnick, chief strategist at Interactive Brokers.
Stock futures rose earlier in the morning and the British pound gained more than 1% versus the U.S. dollar on a report that the government there may be rethinking a tax cut plan that had exacerbated a decline in the currency to the lowest in decades at the end of September, putting global markets on edge.
Thursday’s CPI report comes a day after the government said the producer price index, another inflation gauge, rose more than expected.
Investors also digested minutes from the September Federal Reserve meeting, released Wednesday. The minutes showed the central bank expected to keep hiking interest rates until it sees receding inflation. But one comment made some think the Fed might instead slow the rate hikes, if not roll them back, if financial markets tumult continued.
Going forward, investors will be watching the start of earnings season. On Friday, major banks JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup all report results.