Stock Market Today: Stocks Weeble, Wobble, But Finish Mostly Flat

An up-and-down session Thursday finished with muted results despite a volley of encouraging economic signals.

A man losing his balance while standing on a stone in a pond
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stocks struggled to find direction despite mostly positive vibes from Thursday’s economic data dump.

New unemployment-benefits filings for the week ended Sept. 11 rose by 20,000 claims to 332,000 – slightly higher than expected, but still near the pandemic-era lows. Moreover, the four-week moving average for claims declined to 335,750, which is the lowest such figure since March 2020.

More clearly positive were August headline retail sales, which rose 0.7% month-over-month, surprising economists who on average had forecast a 0.7% decline.

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“American shoppers bounced back nicely in August even as another wave of the virus sent confidence plunging, suggesting decent underlying support from growing employment and excess savings,” says Sal Guatieri, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets. “Strength in general merchandise (3.5%) and furniture (3.7%) was tempered by virtually no change in clothing and food services.”

Another upside surprise came from the Philadelphia Fed factory index, which came in at 30.7 in September from 19.4 in August, signaling a sizable jump in the region’s manufacturing activity.

Investors weren’t quite sure what to do with the info.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average swung from an early 129-point gain to a 274-point loss before stabilizing to a mere 63-point (0.2%) decline to 34,751. The S&P 500 (-0.2% to 4,473) and Nasdaq Composite (+0.1% to 15,181) experienced similar up-and-down rides.

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 posted a marginal decline to 2,232.
  • Beyond Meat (BYND (opens in new tab), -2.3%) took a notable dive today after Piper Sandler analyst Michael Lavery downgraded the stock to Underweight from Neutral – the equivalent of Sell and Hold, respectively. While noting that BYND is an early leader in the plant-based protein market, "we believe its current all-channel retail momentum lags consensus expectations, and our foodservice estimates may be high," Lavery wrote in a note to clients.
  • Food delivery firm DoorDash (DASH (opens in new tab), +5.6%), on the other hand, got a boost after a bullish brokerage note. Specifically, BofA Global Research analyst Michael McGovern upgraded DASH to Buy, citing expectations for "significant three-year revenue upside potential from non-restaurant delivery." He also pointed to higher-than-expected core restaurant growth and online penetration as reasons for the upgrade.
  • U.S. crude oil futures finished flat at $72.61 per barrel.
  • Gold futures fell 2.1% to settle at $1,756.70 an ounce.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) climbed by 2.9% to 18.71.
  • Bitcoin declined by 1.4% to $47,443.29. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

stock chart for 091621

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Get Ready for a New Batch of IPOs

Fall is here, which means the turning of the leaves, pumpkin-spicing of everything … and likely one last batch of new stocks hitting the public markets.

2021 has seen an explosion in initial public offerings. IPO investment advisory firm Renaissance Capital says that new offerings have raised more than $100 billion so far this year – already surpassing the record $97 billion raised across the entirety of 2000.

Much of that has come thanks to the rise of special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) (opens in new tab) – a process that some companies use to list on major exchanges (opens in new tab) while bypassing the usual IPO route.

However, traditional IPOs have had quite the year too, including the debuts of well-known names such as Weber (WEBR (opens in new tab)), Bumble (BMBL (opens in new tab)) and Duolingo (DUOL (opens in new tab)).

Investors still have a few chances to get in more offerings before 2021 comes to a close. We’ve recently added a host of new names to our list of hot upcoming IPOs (opens in new tab), and all told, we’ve identified 14 must-see potential listings that are expected to launch sometime before the end of the year. Check them out.

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.