Stocks flat as investors grapple with inflation surge, Disney letdown

Table of Contents 4:05 p.m. ET: Stocks end mixed: Tech stocks lead Nasdaq comeback while

Wall Street was mixed Thursday, with investors grappling with the implications of inflation that has soared to its highest in decades, and third-quarter earnings that are starting to show signs of slowing growth.

The S&P 500 was rose after back-to-back sessions of losses. The Nasdaq outperformed, with some of Wednesday’s biggest technology laggards posting a rebound — led by Netflix (NFLX) which overtook Disney in market capitalization. 

With no notable economic data due out on Thursday due to the Veterans Day holiday, investors have been left to continue responding to the latest batch of mixed economic data. And meanwhile, a couple of closely watched companies missed quarterly earnings estimates, though most S&P 500 companies have topped expectations throughout third-quarter earnings season to date. 

After market close on Wednesday, Dow-component Disney (DIS) reported disappointing sales and profits as Disney+ subscriber growth slowed more than expected. Beyond Meat (BYND) also offered a weak current-quarter revenue forecast, pointing to continued sluggishness in the plant-based meat alternative-maker’s sales trends. Affirm (AFRM), however, saw shares soar in the premarket session, with the buy-now-pay-later financial technology platform topping quarterly sales expectations and unveiling an expanded payments partnership with Amazon. 

Elsewhere, however, elevated demand for electric-vehicle stocks and for shares of newly public companies showed few signs of slowing down after Rivian Automotive’s (RIVN) public debut. The Amazon-backed EV-maker’s stock closed higher by 29% from its IPO price of $78 per share on its first day trading on the Nasdaq. 

A greater-than-expected jump in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index was a particular source of concern for traders on Wednesday, suggesting elevated price pressures were still present across many categories. The print also overshadowed some other upbeat economic data on the labor market’s recovery, as initial unemployment claims dipped to reach a fresh pandemic-era low last week. 

The broadest measure of consumer price changes rose by a staggering 6.2% in October compared to the prior year, representing the biggest annual rise in 31 years. 

“This is certainly telling us, I think, that price pressures are more persistent. They are broader. They are not just narrowly focused on those categories, whether it’s autos and the supply-constrained items. And it’s going to last longer than expected,” Matthew Luzzetti, Deutsche Bank chief U.S. economist, told Yahoo Finance Live. 

Importantly, stickiness in inflation also suggests that the Federal Reserve will need to step in sooner than previously anticipated to raise interest rates in order to help bring rising prices in check. Markets are pricing in an initial hike to bring rates up from their current near-zero levels by mid-2022 — but more prints showing elevated inflation could pull those expectations forward, Luzzetti added. And already, consumers’ outlooks on inflation have increased considerably, with the New York Federal Reserve reporting this week that consumers’ short-term inflation expectations jumped to a record high of 5.7%. 

“We do think that the Fed is going to have to raise rates next year. They’ve signaled that they’re going to taper through the middle of the year, and that’s our baseline at this point,” Luzzetti said. “But if you continue to see price pressures like this over the coming months and more persistent, it may cause them to have to act earlier than expected.”

4:05 p.m. ET: Stocks end mixed: Tech stocks lead Nasdaq comeback while Disney earnings letdown drags on Dow

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:05 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +2.56 (+0.06%) to 4,649.27

  • Dow (^DJI): -158.71 (-0.44%) to 35,921.23

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +81.58 (+0.52%) to 15,704.28

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.17 (-0.21%) to $81.17 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$17.00 (+0.92%) to $1,865.30 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): 0 bps to yield 1.5600%

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks hug the flatline

Here were the main moves in markets as of 9:30 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): 4,655.17, +8.46 (+0.18%)

  • Dow (^DJI): 36,000.82, -79.12 (-0.22%)

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): 15,728.25, +105.55 (+0.68%)

  • Crude (CL=F): $81.61 per barrel, +$0.27 (+0.33%)

  • Gold (GC=F): $1,863.40 per ounce, +$15.10 (+0.82%)

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): flat to yield 1.5600%

7:47 a.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures recover some losses

Here’s where markets were trading ahead of the opening bell:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +16.25 points (+0.35%), to 4,658.25

  • Dow futures (YM=F): +44 points (+0.12%), to 35,036.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +98.25 points (+0.61%) to 16,078.75

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.59 (-0.73%) to $80.75 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$12.30 (+0.67%) to $1,860.60 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +12.1 bps to yield 1.5700%

6:11 p.m. ET Wednesday: Stock futures drift lower ahead of inflation data

Here’s where markets were trading Wednesday evening:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +3 points (+0.06%), to 4,645.00

  • Dow futures (YM=F): -8 points (-0.02%), to 35,984.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +12.5 points (+0.08%) to 15,993.00

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., November 8, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter

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