Stock Market Today: Wall Street Lays an Egg Heading Into Easter Weekend

Profit drops among Wall Street's big banks and slowing retail sales weighed down the major indices Thursday.

cracked blue egg next to yellow yolk
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stocks fell across the board at the holiday-shortened trading week's conclusion as mixed bank earnings and cloudy economic data dampened bulls' enthusiasm.

The Commerce Department on Thursday reported that while retail sales did indeed grow for the third consecutive month, inflation clearly took a bite. March's retail sales were up 0.5% month-over-month, a slowdown from February's upwardly revised 0.8% growth and lower than expectations for 0.6% expansion.

"There's no doubt rising energy and gas prices are starting to take a toll on household budgets," says Peter Essele, head of portfolio management for Commonwealth Financial Network. "March's report could be an early sign that consumers are starting to put away their wallets as prices for many goods soar across the board."

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Also Thursday, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims for the week ending April 9 climbed a bit from the prior week, to 185,000 from 167,000 (revised), which was well more than the 170,000 expected.

Meanwhile, the first-quarter earnings season (opens in new tab) continued its debut with a mixed slate of reports from the nation's largest financial-sector firms (opens in new tab).

Wells Fargo (WFC (opens in new tab), -4.5%) stumbled hard as a decline in mortgage lending caused its Q1 revenues to come up short of Wall Street's mark; profits were better than expected but still were off 21% year-over-year.

Morgan Stanley's (MS (opens in new tab), +0.8%) earnings were off 8%, but the stock was slightly in the green as a blowout quarter for its trading desks fueled easy top- and bottom-line beats. Similar success in Goldman Sachs (GS (opens in new tab), -0.1%) and Citigroup's (C (opens in new tab), +1.6%) trading divisions helped them easily hurdle earnings expectations, though both suffered 40%-plus declines in profits.

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And super-regional bank U.S. Bancorp (USB (opens in new tab), +4.2%) was one of the sector's top performers after besting Q1 estimates, though here too, earnings were off from year-ago levels.

"This looks like a case where the banks underpromised and overdelivered as a way of putting lipstick on a very unattractive quarter," says Anthony Denier, CEO of trading platform Webull. "Overall earnings were terrible, but because they led analysts to believe their earnings would be worse, investors were happy."

Even Twitter (TWTR (opens in new tab), -1.7%) managed to fall despite explosive M&A news. Just more than a week after it was reported that Tesla (TSLA (opens in new tab), -3.7%) CEO Elon Musk had built up a 9%-plus stake in the social media platform (opens in new tab), a new filing revealed that Musk is trying to buy Twitter outright for $54.20 per share (opens in new tab).

The Nasdaq Composite took the worst brunt, off 2.1% to 13,351, good for a 2.6% weekly decline. The S&P 500 (-1.2% to 4,392) was down 2.2% for the week, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average's modest 0.3% dip to 34,451 cemented a 0.8% weekly loss.

And a quick reminder: Tomorrow (Good Friday) is a stock market holiday (opens in new tab).

stock chart for 041422

(Image credit: YCharts)

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 shed another 1% to 2,004, putting the index ahead by 0.5% for the week.
  • U.S. crude oil futures jumped 2.6% to finish at $106.95 per barrel.
  • Gold futures snapped their five-day winning streak, slipping 0.5% to settle at $1,974.90 an ounce.
  • Bitcoin dropped back below the $40,000 mark, declining 3.1% to $39,782.41. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m.
  • Susquehanna Financial Group analyst Mehdi Hosseini downgraded Seagate Technology (STX (opens in new tab), -3.2%) to Negative (Sell), saying quarterly cloud spending may peak in the second half of this year. This will likely be followed by relatively weaker spend trends into 2023, the analyst adds. While some of this is already priced, Hosseini argues "the extent of deceleration in cloud capex spend by year-end 2022 and into 2023, and its impact, is still not dialed into expectations and certainly not in the current consensus.. The analyst also downgraded fellow tech stock Western Digital (WDC (opens in new tab), -3.2%), to Neutral (Hold).
  • Nike (NKE (opens in new tab)) was the best Dow Jones stock today, gaining 4.7% after UBS Global Research analyst Jay Sole (Buy) said he was "very bullish" on the blue chip. "Nike will be a long-term outperformer, in our view," Sole says. "The company's investments in product innovation, supply chain speed, and digital are unlocking what is likely a multiyear period of above average growth. We forecast a 16% four-year earnings per share compound annual growth rate."

How Do You Fight Off Rising Prices? With Pricing Power!

Earlier this week, consumer and producer price reports alike showed that U.S. inflation is still in a full-blown sprint. That has Wall Street strategists continuing to look for stocks that can stave off inflation (opens in new tab).

UBS's analyst team has just taken a look into pricing power, a company's ability to raise prices without significantly reducing demand.

"With inflation pressures surging, pricing power relative to cost exposures will be a key theme and source of alpha for global equity markets," says UBS's team. "Historically, when the U.S. two-year inflation breakeven has been above 2.5%, companies with strong pricing power have outperformed their weak counterparts by nearly 14% on average over the next 12 months."

UBS goes on to highlight a number of U.S. and international stocks that boast strong pricing power – as well as some names that come up short and could struggle as long as inflation remains hot. Read on as we explain more about this tactic for tackling inflation and look at UBS's winners and losers.

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.