Stock Market Today: Tech Tumbles on Another Weak Day for Stocks

Another hot inflation reading sparks concerns that Fed policy will get tighter, sooner, weighing on technology shares.

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The market sagged again Tuesday ahead of tomorrow's conclusion of the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting, with technology stocks showing the greatest weakness.

The Labor Department delivered another sign of surging inflation today, announcing that wholesale prices jumped 9.6% year-over-year in November. That number was ahead of economist expectations for 9.2% and marked the fastest rate since the department started keeping tabs in November 2010.

Several experts believe that all but guarantees the Fed will announce a faster tapering of asset purchases, which in turn is raising fears that interest-rate hikes could follow soon.

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"Our base case is that the Fed doubles its pace of QE tapering which would, in theory, put the March meeting in play for policy rate liftoff," says Lauren Goodwin, economist and portfolio strategist at New York Life Investments. "We also expect the Fed's median 'dots' to show rate hikes earlier in 2022, with likely two hikes next year."

"Yet, bond yields don't seem to be worried about inflation sticking around as the 10-year [Treasury] sits 20 basis points below pre-Thanksgiving levels," notes Lindsey Bell, chief money and markets strategist at Ally Invest. "While the Fed is more heavily leaning on inflation readings for cues on pace and timing of its monetary unwind, I believe the greater predictor of both inflation and Fed policy will be the job market."

Still, the news weighed on the rate-sensitive tech sector (-1.6%), as did a note from JPMorgan analyst Sterling Auty, who lowered his ratings on Adobe (ADBE (opens in new tab), -6.6%), Zscaler (ZS (opens in new tab), -7.8%) and Datadog (DDOG (opens in new tab), -6.5%), among other software stocks. Microsoft (MSFT, -3.3%) and Intuit (INTU, -4.4%) also weighed on the sector.

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All that put the greatest burden on the Nasdaq Composite, which was off 1.1% to 15,237. The S&P 500 dropped a more modest 0.8% to 4,634, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average escaped with a mere 0.3% decline to 35,544.

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 sank again, off 1.0% to 2,159.
  • U.S. crude oil futures fell 0.8% to finish at $70.73 per barrel.
  • Gold futures shed 0.9% to settle at $1,772.30 an ounce.
  • Bitcoin prices rebounded, however, gaining 2.4% to $47,805.73. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.)
  • Beyond Meat (BYND (opens in new tab)) jumped 9.3% after Piper Sandler analyst Michael Lavery upgraded the stock to Neutral from Underweight, the equivalents of Hold and Sell, respectively. The move amid Lavery's expectations that the plant-based protein-maker could launch its McPlant burger – currently being tested in eight McDonald's (MCD (opens in new tab)) locations across the U.S. – nationwide beginning in March, which is earlier than previously expected. Neither Beyond Meat nor McDonald's has commented.
  • MGM Resorts International (MGM (opens in new tab)) gained 2.2% after the casino operator said it is selling the operations of its Mirage casino on the Las Vegas Strip to Hard Rock International for roughly $1.1 billion. The sale is forecast to close in the second half of next year, pending regulatory approval.

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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.