Markets Mixed at Midday as Booming Retail Sales Raise Interest Rate Hike Fears

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Key Takeaways

  • U.S. equities were mixed at midday on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023 following a report showing retail sales jumped well above expectations in September, raising concerns of more Fed interest rate hikes ahead to fight inflation.
  • Semiconductor stocks lost ground after the White House indicated it would tighten restrictions on exports of AI chips to China.
  • VF Corp. shares soared after a report activist investor Engaged Capital has taken a large stake in the apparel retailer and will call for a shakeup.

U.S. equities were mixed at midday as a report showed retail sales jumped beyond expectations last month, raising concerns the Federal Reserve may have to continue raising interest rates to bring down inflation. The news sent the yield on the 10-year Treasury note soaring.

Shares of Nvidia (NVDA) and other semiconductor makers slumped as the Biden administration indicated it would impose tougher restrictions on shipments of artificial intelligence (AI) chips to China.

Goldman Sachs (GS) shares also fell as the investment bank’s profit sank by a third and revenue declined. Shares of Moderna (MRNA) and rival COVID-19 vaccine makers dropped as Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) was the latest pharmaceutical firm to report slowing demand for the shots. 

VF Corp. (VFC) shares skyrocketed after a report activist investor Engaged Capital has taken a major stake in the apparel retailer and plans to push for changes, including cost cuts. The retail report boosted shares of discount stores Dollar General (DG) and Dollar Tree (DLTR).

Bank of America (BAC) shares increased as high interest rates helped the bank post better-than-expected results.

Oil futures gave up early gains and sank. Gold prices were little changed. The U.S. dollar advanced against the pound and yen, but declined versus the euro. Most major cryptocurrencies traded lower. 

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