S&P 500, Nasdaq fall as tech slides and inflation concerns weigh

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell on Wednesday as concerns about inflation pressured stocks and investors rotated out of technology shares.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. flags fly out in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York, U.S., February 16, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged higher, however, aided in part by gains in shares of Verizon Communications Inc and Chevron Corp, which rose after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc disclosed major investments in the companies on Tuesday. Verizon shares climbed 5.0%, and Chevron shares advanced 2.7%. [nL1N2KM2HX]

Technology shares led losses on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. Apple Inc, PayPal Holdings Inc and Nvidia Corp weighed most on both indexes. The S&P 500 tech index fell 1.3%.

Both of those indexes briefly pared losses while the Dow momentarily added to gains after the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s January policy meeting. All of the meeting’s participants supported the decision to keep rates unchanged and maintain an accommodative monetary policy.

The Fed has pledged to pin interest rates near zero until inflation rises to 2% and looks set to exceed that goal. That stance, coupled with President Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9 trillion package for pandemic relief, has some analysts warning of a coming surge in inflation.

As a result, some investors have considered whether the Fed may have to change course sooner than expected. Data released on Wednesday showed a substantial jump in U.S. producer prices and a strong rebound in retail sales.

Fears that the Fed may have to change course on policy more quickly than expected have driven recent declines in stocks. Those worries have been bolstered by a sharp rise in benchmark Treasury yields, fueled in part by expectations for greater inflation.

“You maybe have to put somewhere in the foreseeable future that they have to do something,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Stamford, Connecticut, referring to the Fed.

“But it’s a high threshold we have to cross in order to get them to react,” he added. “That’s why we’re not selling off massively.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 50.95 points, or 0.16%, to 31,573.7, the S&P 500 lost 9.33 points, or 0.24%, to 3,923.26 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 124.72 points, or 0.89%, to 13,922.78.

Wells Fargo & Co shares jumped 5.2% after a report said the lender won Fed acceptance for overhauling risk management and governance tied to regulatory asset cap.

U.S.-listed shares of Shopify Inc slid 2.8% after the Canadian e-commerce giant hinted at slower revenue growth in 2021 as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores after a year marked by an upsurge in online shopping.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.52-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.77-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 23 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 161 new highs and nine new lows.

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