Stocks slide as inflation worries linger

WTI crude oil closed at lowest level since Nov. 4

U.S. stocks slid Wednesday as investors fretted over inflation as they awaited word on President Biden's pick to head the Federal Reserve. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 210 points, or 0.58%, while the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite index declined by 0.26% and 0.33%, respectively. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 33849.46 -497.57 -1.45%
SP500 S&P 500 3963.94 -62.18 -1.54%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 11049.498575 -176.86 -1.58%

Wednesday's selling came a day after all three of the major averages closed just below their respective all-time highs, and as investors awaited Biden's choice to head the Federal Reserve. Biden will decide in the next few days whether to give Chairman Jerome Powell a second term or hand over the reins to Fed governor Lael Brainard.  

The president's pick to lead the Fed could have major implications for the central bank's rate-hike path. The Fed is expected to begin hiking rates in the middle of next year. 

In stocks, Target Corp. reported quarterly profit and sales that were ahead of analysts’ expectations but said gross margins were pressured by higher costs. The big-box retailer lifted its same-store sales forecast following a strong start to the holiday shopping season.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
TGT TARGET CORP. 165.37 +1.99 +1.22%

Lowe’s Companies Inc. raised its annual sales forecast as strong demand for tools and materials has resulted from a resurgence in home improvement projects. Both earnings and revenue exceeded estimates. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
LOW LOWE'S COS. INC. 209.04 -1.93 -0.91%

Qatar Airways said it was considering an order for Boeing Co.'s cargo jets. This comes as Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said it would cancel Boeing and Airbus orders due to uncertainty over delivery dates. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BA THE BOEING CO. 171.83 -6.53 -3.66%

Amazon.com Inc. said it will stop accepting Visa Inc. credit cards in the U.K. due to high fees for processing transactions. Visa hopes to resolve the situation before the ban goes into effect on Jan. 19.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
V VISA INC. 211.26 -2.53 -1.18%
AMZN AMAZON.COM INC. 93.95 +0.54 +0.58%

Pfizer CFO Frank D’Amelio will retire after almost 15 years at the drug company. An external search for his successor is already underway. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
PFE PFIZER INC. 49.57 +0.36 +0.73%

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed down $2.40 at $78.36 per barrel, settling below $80 for the first time since Nov. 4. Gold, meanwhile, jumped $16.10 to $1,869.70 an ounce. 

Overseas markets were choppy. 

European bourses traded mixed with Britain’s FTSE 100 sliding 0.49%, France’s CAC 40 rising 0.06% and Germany’s DAX 30 edging higher by 0.02%. 

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In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite advanced 0.44% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index and Japan’s Nikkei 225 declined 0.25% and 0.4%, respectively.