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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Wall Street stocks fall as markets weigh strong wage data, Fed meeting

U.S. stocks ended lower on Tuesday as markets weighed economic data showing rising labor costs and deteriorating consumer confidence on the eve of a key Federal Reserve policy meeting to decide the direction of interest rates.

Data showed on Tuesday that U.S. labor costs rose by a more-than-expected 1.2% last quarter, indicating an uptick in wage pressures. A survey also found that U.S. consumer confidence worsened in April, dropping to its lowest level in more than 1-1/2 years.

It’s hard to put a timeline on it specifically to be honest.

The reports came a day before the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) begins its two-day meeting, with investors widely expecting the central bank to leave interest rates unchanged.

Most Magnificent Seven stocks finished lower, including Tesla (TSLA.O), opens new tab, Alphabet (GOOGL.O), opens new tab, Nvidia (NVDA.O), opens new tab, Microsoft (MSFT.O), opens new tab, and Amazon (AMZN.O).

“We’re still in an environment where the knee-jerk reaction is to extrapolate any warmer data into firmer inflation and more hawkish reaction from the Fed,” said Garrett Melson, portfolio strategist at Natixis Investment Managers in Boston.

“But nothing has changed: growth is still strong, labor markets are holding up, and ultimately we’re taking a little bit of breather in the disinflation process,” Melson added.

Money markets are pricing in just about 31 basis points (bps) of rate cuts this year, down from about 150 bps estimated at the start of 2024, according to LSEG data.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 (.SPX), opens new tab lost 79.92 points, or 1.56%, to end at 5,036.25 points, while the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC), opens new tab lost 325.26 points, or 2.00%, to 15,664.13. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 574.08 points, or 1.47%, to 37,823.57.

Shares of GE HealthCare, opens new tab(GEHC.O), opens new tab shrank after its first-quarter revenue missed analyst estimates, 3M (MMM.N) gained after posting a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

Drugmaker Eli Lilly (LLY.N), opens new tab jumped after it raised its full-year profit forecast. PayPal (PYPL.O), rose after raising its full-year adjusted profit forecast.

Of the 265 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings to date for the first quarter, 79.2% have beat analyst estimates, compared with the long-term average of 67%, according to LSEG I/B/E/S data.

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