US stocks fell on Thursday as investors were discouraged by unexpectedly poor unemployment and a grim outlook from Walmart.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 260 points. The S&P 500 was down 1.0% while the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.4% as investors continued to turn away from high-flying technology.
Walmart stock fell nearly 6% after fourth-quarter earnings fell below Wall Street estimates. The big box retailer sees a slowdown in sales growth again this year as pandemic momentum subsides.
Apple shares fell another 2.4%. The tech giant is down 4.6% this week as investors take some gains in the big tech stocks that drove the market to record highs. Tesla was down 2.5%, bringing its losses to 4.6% since the start of the week.
“Stocks are sliding across the board, with high, multi-growth names being hit hardest thanks to the relentless surge in yields,” said Adam Crisafulli, founder of Vital Knowledge, in a note. “The result was also overwhelming as Walmart’s EPS failure and high spending projections unsettled investors.”
Meanwhile, the latest number of unemployment claims signaled a setback in the labor market recovery. Initial unemployment claims last week were 861,000, the highest in a month and above the Dow Jones estimate of 773,000, the Department of Labor reported Thursday.
“This is not the direction unemployment claims are supposed to go, but keep in mind that this could be a minor nuisance as the pace for vaccination continues to accelerate and cases across the country are falling,” said Mike Loewengart, chief investment officer at E-Trade Financial.
The recent surge in bond yields coupled with rising inflation expectations made some investors concerned about a near-term decline in stocks. High-growth tech companies that led the market’s epic comeback are particularly vulnerable to higher interest rates and inflationary pressures.
Many still believe that a new stimulus contract could take markets another step up, even if it’s already priced in a little.
“If you think about how the added incentive can affect the average consumer, since the CARES Act 1.0 and the Second Round of Review really add to the savings, at this point we firmly believe that the additional incentive will pour straight into the economy” said Cliff Hodge, the chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth.
Congressional hearings on the GameStop saga began Thursday. Those in charge of Melvin Capital and Robinhood joined Reddit retailer Keith Gill on the US House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.