Dow, S&P 500 retreat as yields edge up ahead of data, earnings

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The S&P 500 and Dow lost ground and closed lower on Tuesday, pressured by a modest rise in Treasury yields as investors assessed the timing and size of any Federal Reserve interest rate cuts in 2024 ahead of inflation data this week.

Expectations the central bank could begin cutting rates as soon as March have been slowly decreasing, with CME’s FedWatch Tool showing a 65.7% chance for a cut of at least 25 basis points (bps) for the month, down from 79% a week ago.

That has helped keep U.S. Treasury yields hovering near the 4% mark, with the benchmark 10-year yield last up slightly at 4.019% after reaching a high of 4.053% earlier in the session.

Investors are bracing this week for more Treasury supply and the consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI). Earnings season unofficially begins on Friday, with reports from banks such as JPMorgan.

“It’s all speculation on what the Fed may or may not do and the bond market clearly got ahead of itself in anticipating rate cuts starting in March,” said Tim Ghriskey, senior portfolio strategist at Ingalls & Snyder in New York.

“The fed futures will move around based on earnings definitely and on the data. … The market is just jumping one way or the other trying to get ahead of things if they occur.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 157.85 points, or 0.42%, to 37,525.16. The S&P 500 lost 7.04 points, or 0.15 %, at 4,756.50 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 13.94 points, or 0.09 %, at 14,857.71.

A late move higher helped push the Nasdaq back into positive territory for the day.

The majority of the 11 major S&P sectors fell, with energy the weakest with a decline of 1.63% while tech led the four sector gainers with a rise of only 0.25%.

Stocks had rallied on Monday, with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 scoring their first daily percentage climbs of more than 1% since Dec. 21 and biggest one-day percentage advances since Nov. 14.

Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic on Monday stressed the need to keep monetary policy tight, while Fed Governor Michelle Bowman retreated from her persistently hawkish view and signaled a willingness to support eventual rate cuts as inflation eases.

Investors will parse Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Michael Barr’s remarks for his perspectives on the policy outlook later on Tuesday.

Boeing weakened for a second straight session to close down 1.41% as the plane maker, main U.S. air regulator and U.S. airlines were still wrangling over 737 MAX 9 inspection guidelines that would address safety lapses after airlines found several aircraft with loose parts. The parts were found on grounded 737 MAX 9s in the wake of last week’s emergency landing of an Alaska Airlines flight after a panel blew off.

Juniper Networks surged 21.81% after a source told Reuters that Hewlett Packard Enterprise was in talks to buy the networking product maker in a $13-billion deal. The server maker dropped 7.3%.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 2.1-to-1 ratio on the NYSE while on the Nasdaq, declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 1.7-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and no new lows while the Nasdaq recorded 90 new highs and 87 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.56 billion shares, compared with the 12.3 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Richard Chang)