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U.S. stocks tumbled in a back-and-forth session Thursday as a flurry of corporate headlines held investor attention over any moves from the major averages.
The benchmark S&P 500 dropped 1.1%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 170 points, or about 0.6%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite led the way down, falling 1.5%. The moves come after a modest rebound on Wednesday from the stock market’s worst day since June 2020.
On the corporate side, “buy now, pay later” companies were on watch amid news the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will start regulating the delayed payment industry over concerns their offerings financially harm consumers. Shares of Affirm (AFRM), a leader in the space, fell 1.4%.
Elsewhere, Adobe (ADBE) announced plans for a $20 billion acquisition of online design startup Figma in order to expand its lineup of hybrid-work-friendly platforms. Shares of Adobe tanked nearly 17%.
In economic data, initial jobless claims fell for a fifth-straight week to the lowest reading since May. Filings for first-time unemployment insurance totaled 213,000 in the week ended Sept. 10 from 222,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists called for 227,000 claims, according to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, data from the Commerce Department showed consumers kept up spending in August despite continued pressures from inflation. Retail sales unexpectedly increased 0.3% last month after a downwardly revised 0.4% decline in July.
In the bond market, the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note climbed above 3.45%, and the 2-year Treasury teetered past 3.8%, hitting a 15-year high on the heels of shock August inflation data earlier this week.
Last month’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed prices rose a more-than-expected 8.3% over last year, triggering a meltdown across U.S. equity markets as investors faced the reality that more combative central bank policy will be necessary to tame inflation.
Economists at Bank of America said Wednesday in a note that Federal Reserve officials are likely to warn market participants that risks of a hard landing are rising following their policy-setting meeting next week.
“This will likely come through projections that show less growth, higher unemployment, and a more restrictive policy rate stance,” BofA strategists led by Michael Gapen said. “While the Fed is still likely to view a soft landing as a modal outcome, the window appears to be narrowing.”
The CME FedWatch Tool Thursday morning showed markets were pricing in a nearly 30% chance the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates by a full percentage point next week as inflation shows signs of becoming entrenched in the U.S. economy.
Cryptocurrency markets were front and center Thursday after Ethereum completed its highly anticipated “merge,” a technological shift to a more energy-efficient method of how tokens are minted. Ethereum (ETH-USD) traded just under $1,600 Thursday morning, while bitcoin (BTC-USD) held above $21,000.
Meanwhile, oil prices declined, continuing a volatile stretch for energy markets. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil fell 3.6% to $85.27 per barrel, erasing Wednesday’s gain, while Brent crude oil futures were off by 3.4% at $90.95 per barrel.
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