Stocks slide as Yellen calls on businesses to pay more in taxes

Housing starts fell 9.8% in April

U.S. equity markets slid Tuesday as investors assessed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's calls for higher taxes and weighed disappointing housing data against strong earnings reports from several retailers. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 33290.08 -533.37 -1.58%
SP500 S&P 500 4166.45 -55.41 -1.31%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 14030.375849 -130.97 -0.92%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 267 points, or 0.78%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.85% and 0.56%, respectively. The major averages gained early in the session but selling picked up as the trading day matured. 

STAGFLATION WORRIES IGNITE COMPARISONS TO CARTER'S 1970S

Yellen on Tuesday called on businesses to pay their fair share of taxes in order to support President Biden's $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
DHI D.R. HORTON, INC. 89.94 +1.07 +1.20%
TOL TOLL BROTHERS, INC. 56.46 -0.68 -1.19%
LEN LENNAR CORP. 98.17 +3.52 +3.72%

Housing starts declined 9.5% in April to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.569 million, missing the 1.71 million that was expected. The sharper-than-expected drop came as costs for lumber, copper and other materials soared. Building permits, meanwhile, ticked up 0.3% to 1.76 million. Housing stocks fell on the news. 

In stocks, Walmart Inc. raised its full-year profit forecast as another batch of stimulus checks boosted same-store sales. The retailer said online sales rose 37% from a year ago.   

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
WMT WALMART, INC. 135.17 -2.55 -1.85%
HD THE HOME DEPOT, INC. 302.61 -0.51 -0.17%

Home Depot Inc. said sales at stores open at least a year soared 31% year over year, the most on record, as Americans continued to make home improvements amid the pandemic. The company declined to give a forecast for the rest of the year. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
M MACY'S, INC. 17.72 -0.41 -2.26%

Macy’s Inc. reported a surprise quarterly profit and raised its full-year outlook as shoppers returned to stores and continued to buy items online. The department store said demand for home goods, fine jewelry and watches, fragrance and luxury items was strong. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
BRK.B BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY, INC. 274.04 -4.65 -1.67%
AON AON PLC 230.10 -2.74 -1.18%
CVX CHEVRON CORP. 103.03 -4.04 -3.77%
WFC WELLS FARGO & CO. 41.75 -1.04 -2.43%
USB U.S. BANCORP 54.74 -0.98 -1.76%

Elsewhere, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought 4.1 million shares of Aon plc, last quarter, making it the conglomerate’s newest holding. Berkshire also sold half of its Chevron Corp. holdings and reduced its positions in financial firms Wells Fargo & Co. and U.S. Bancorp. 

In deals, Amazon Inc. is reportedly in talks to buy MGM Holdings’ film studio for between $7 billion and $9 billion. 

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AMZN AMAZON.COM, INC. 3,486.90 -2.34 -0.07%

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil slid 78 cents to $65.49 per barrel while gold ticked up 30 cents to $1,867.80 per ounce. 

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Overseas markets were mixed. 

Britain’s FTSE 100 edged up 0.02% while Germany’s DAX 30 and France’s CAC 40 both slipped 0.07% and 0.21%, respectively. 

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 climbed 2.09%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 1.42% and China’s Shanghai Composite edged up 0.32%.