Stocks attempted to recover from initial weakness on Tuesday but moved back to the downside in the latter part of the session. The major averages all ended the day in negative territory, although the Dow posted a relatively modest loss.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq slumped 144.28 points or 1.0 percent to 13,773.61, largely offsetting the strong gain posted on Monday. The S&P 500 also fell 25.56 points or 0.6 percent to 4,461.90, while the Dow edged down 17.73 points or 0.1 percent to 34,645.99.
The lower close on Wall Street came as traders look ahead to the release of the Labor Department’s highly anticipated report on consumer price inflation on Wednesday.
Economists currently expect the annual rate of consumer price growth to accelerate to 3.6 percent in August from 3.2 percent in July, while the annual rate of core consumer price growth is expected to slow to 4.4 percent from 4.7 percent.
The inflation data could have a significant impact on the outlook for interest rates ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy meeting next week.
Ahead of the data, CME Group’s FedWatch Tool is currently indicating a 93.0 percent chance the Federal Reserve will leave interest rates unchanged next week.
The outlook for November is a little more uncertain, however, with the FedWatch Tool indicating a 56.4 percent chance rates will remain unchanged and a 40.9 percent chance of another quarter point rate hike.
Some selling pressure was also generated in reaction to a sharp increase by the price of crude oil, with crude for October delivery surging $1.55 to $88.84 a barrel.
The price of crude oil has reached its highest levels since last November amid worries about tight supplies, raising concerns about sticky inflation.
A steep drop by shares of Oracle (ORCL) weighed on the tech-heavy Nasdaq, with the software giant plunging by 13.5 percent.
The slump by Oracle came after the company reported weaker than expected fiscal first quarter revenues and provided disappointing revenue guidance for the current quarter.
Software stocks saw substantial weakness amid the steep drop by Oracle, with the Dow Jones U.S. Software Index plunging by 2.4 percent after ending Monday’s trading at its best closing level in over a month.
Considerable weakness was also visible among housing stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent slump by the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index.
Computer hardware and networking stocks also saw notable weakness, while energy stocks moved sharply higher along with the price of crude oil.
Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index and the NYSE Arca Oil Index surged by 2.4 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.
Banking stocks also showed a significant move to the upside over the course of the session, resulting in a 1.7 percent gain by the KBW Bank Index.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in another mixed performance during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index jumped by 1.0 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index dipped by 0.2 percent.
The major European markets also finished the day mixed. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.4 percent, the French CAC 40 Index fell by 0.4 percent and the German DAX Index slid by 0.5 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries showed a lack of direction for much of the session before closing modestly higher. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, dipped 2.4 basis points to 4.264 percent.
Trading on Wednesday is likely to be driven by reaction to the report on consumer price inflation and the impact on the outlook for interest rates.
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