Stock Market Today: Stocks Retreat From Recent Highs

All but one sector finished in the red Thursday amid Fed stimulus concerns, a string of ugly earnings reports and Middle East unrest.

Car shifted into reverse
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The news wire didn't give Wall Street much to cheer about Thursday, sending the major indexes to modest losses.

Ahead of Friday's Federal Reserve symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Kansas City Fed President Esther George told CNBC that pulling back on monetary stimulus soon was "appropriate given the progress we've seen."

That said, it's possible we might not see that particular brand of firework tomorrow.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/xrd7fjmf8g1657008683.png

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of Kiplinger’s expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of Kiplinger’s expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

"We doubt he will shed much light on the precise timing of tapering asset purchases given the uncertain impact of the latest COVID wave on the economy," says Sal Guatieri, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets.

Also of concern: an attack near the Kabul, Afghanistan, airport that killed at least 12 U.S. service members and wounded 15 at last check. And on the economic front, weekly jobless claims edged up by 4,000 filings to 353,000.

The earnings calendar wasn't much relief, either.

Sign up for Kiplinger's FREE Investing Weekly e-letter for stock, ETF and mutual fund recommendations, and other investing advice.

Dollar Tree (DLTR (opens in new tab), -12.1%) dropped after it reported disappointing Q2 revenues and cut full-year profit estimates to below analysts' expectations. Rival Dollar General's (DG (opens in new tab), -3.8%) 2021 earnings forecast also came in under the bar. Global design software firm Autodesk (ADSK (opens in new tab), -9.4%) provided a similar letdown as its third-quarter profit guidance missed the mark.

Broadly speaking, stocks started relatively flat and crept lower throughout the rest of the day. Real estate was the only sector to finish with gains, and those were marginal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.5% to 35,213), S&P 500 (-0.6% to 4,470) and Nasdaq Composite (-0.6% to 14,945) all closed in the red.

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 dropped by 1.1% to 2,213.
  • Salesforce.com (CRM (opens in new tab), +2.7%) was one of Thursday's few positive earnings stories. The Slack parent reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.48 on revenues of $6.34 billion, which was higher than the 92 cents per share and $6.24 billion that analysts were anticipating. CRM also offered higher-than-expected current-quarter guidance and boosted its full-year forecast after completing its acquisition of business communication platform Slack in the second quarter. The results prompted Mizuho Americas analysts to lift their 12-month price target on Salesforce by $10 to $300. They also have a Buy rating on the shares. "Looking ahead, we believe CRM is very well-situated to help its vast customer base manage revenue and process optimization via digital transformation," they wrote in a research note. "CRM remains one of our top picks over the near term."
  • Pure Storage (PSTG (opens in new tab), +13.8%) also turned in a well-received earnings report. In its second quarter, the maker of flash memory-based enterprise storage solutions brought in adjusted earnings of 14 cents per share and revenue of $496.8 million. This was more than the 5 cents per share and $469.5 million analysts were expecting. Additionally, subscription revenue jumped 31% year-over-year to $171.9 million. "We see a favorable risk/reward equation for Pure Storage, especially given the still solid growth prospects in the business, market share gains and rising mix of subscription sales," William Blair analysts said after PSTG's results. They have an Outperform (Buy) rating on the stock.
  • U.S. crude futures gave back 1.4% to finish at $67.42 per barrel.
  • Gold futures edged up 0.2% to settle at $1,795.20 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) spiked by 12.2% to 18.84.
  • Bitcoin prices retreated 3.7% to $46,974.65. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

stock chart for 082621

(Image credit: YCharts)

Keep Your Sanity Intact

Worried about another round of volatility? Consider adjusting your horizons.

Day and swing traders might be facing a slew of potential headwinds – Fed tapering, the Delta variant, the looming debt ceiling deadline and more – but diversified long-term buy-and-holders can safely watch from the shore.

That's because when you entrust your wealth to a mix of seasoned fund managers and dirt-cheap index funds, a little short-term noise is unlikely to be as disruptive to you as it is for investors to investors who hang their hopes on a handful of individual stocks.

But which funds make the most sense for you?

Investors often have to tap numerous providers to access the kind of stock, bond and other asset exposure they want, but a handful of companies have a strong and deep enough roster that you can find everything you need under a single banner.

Vanguard funds are often top-of-mind, especially among thriftier investors. But rival Fidelity is worth just as long a look. This storied provider also knows how to deliver a wide array of productive options while keeping expenses low. Read on as we explore 15 Fidelity funds that offer something for everyone.

Kyle Woodley was long CRM as of this writing.

Kyle Woodley
Senior Investing Editor, Kiplinger.com

Kyle is senior investing editor for Kiplinger.com. As a writer and columnist, he also specializes in exchange-traded funds. He joined Kiplinger in September 2017 after spending six years at InvestorPlace.com, where he managed the editorial staff. His work has appeared in several outlets, including U.S. News & World Report and MSN Money, he has appeared as a guest on Fox Business Network and Money Radio, and he has been quoted in MarketWatch, Vice and Univision, among other outlets. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, where he earned a BA in journalism.