Stocks turned mixed on Wall Street Wednesday as the market continues an unsettled period of trading ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.
The S&P 500 rose 0.1 percent as of 1:10 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 32 points, or 0.1 percent, to 35,780 and the Nasdaq rose 0.2 percent.
Technology stocks pulled out of an early slide and were mixed. That helped stabilize the broader market. Computer maker HP rose 10.7 percent after reporting solid financial results. Autodesk slumped 17.5 percent after the design software company warned investors the pace of its recovery is being impacted by supply chain problems and pressure from inflation.
A mix of retailers that rely on direct consumer spending also turned choppy. Online crafts marketplace Etsy rose 6.4 percent. Gap nosedived 23 percent after the clothing chain said supply chain problems crimped its third-quarter earnings and revenue. Department store operator Nordstrom plunged 29 percent after reporting weak third-quarter earnings.
Energy stocks made gains as crude oil prices remained relatively stable and natural gas prices rose. Devon Energy rose 3.8 percent.
Bond yields fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slipped to 1.65 percent from 1.67 percent late Tuesday. That weighed down banks, which rely on higher yields to charge more lucrative interest on loans. JPMorgan Chase fell 0.8 percent.
Supply chain problems and pressure from inflation have been key concerns for a wide range of industries. Many companies have warned that they are having trouble meeting demand and are dealing with higher costs for raw materials. Those higher costs are being passed off to consumers, who have been paying more for everything from food and other staples to a wide range of retail items.
“You’ve got an environment where the persistence of supply chain issues is starting to wear on people,” said Eric Freedman, chief investment officer at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
Consumers have so far absorbed the higher costs, but analysts are closely watching to see whether there is any eventual pullback in spending, especially with the key holiday shopping season starting.
The latest update on consumer spending shows an October rebound with a 1.3 percent rise, according to the Commerce Department. That’s slightly more than double the gain in September.
It’s been an otherwise uneventful and short week for investors. Markets will be closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and will close early on Friday.
Investors received several upbeat economic updates on Wednesday.
The Commerce Department reported that the U.S. economy slowed to a modest annual rate of 2.1 percent growth in the October-December quarter, slightly better than its first estimate. But economists are predicting a solid rebound in the current quarter as long as rising inflation and a recent uptick in COVID cases do not derail activity.
The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits plummeted last week to the lowest level in more than half a century, another sign that the U.S. job market is rebounding rapidly from last year’s coronavirus recession.
The Federal Reserve will release minutes later in the day from its October policy meeting, potentially giving investors more details on the central bank’s plan to start trimming bond purchases that have helped keep interest rates low.
By Damian J. Troise