Wall Street’s main indexes ended lower on Wednesday as a grim outlook from Target spurred fresh concerns about retailers heading into the crucial holiday season, while semiconductor shares slid after Micron’s supply cut.
Retail stocks slumped broadly, including declines of over 8% in shares of Macy’s Inc (M.N) and Best Buy Co Inc (BBY.N) and a 7% drop for Foot Locker (FL.N). The S&P 500 consumer discretionary sector (.SPLRCD) shed 1.5%.
Micron Technology (MU.O) shares dropped 6.7% after the company said it would reduce memory chip supply and make more cuts to its capital spending plan. The S&P 500 information technology sector (.SPLRCT) fell 1.4% and the Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index (.SOX) sank 4.3%.
“The biggest sector issue is Target’s earnings and what that means for retail and consumer spending in general. I think that has kind of set the tone for the market,” said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana.
The Micron news “is certainly causing some tech investors to take some of these short term profits off the table because it still appears like the fundamentals are still not great in the tech space,” Carlson said.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 39.09 points, or 0.12%, to 33,553.83, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 32.94 points, or 0.83%, to 3,958.79 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 174.75 points, or 1.54%, to 11,183.66.
Despite the sales warning from Target, data showed U.S. retail sales increased more than expected in October as households stepped up purchases of motor vehicles, suggesting consumer spending picked up early in the fourth quarter.
Stocks had staged a big rally over the past month, after softer-than-expected inflation data raised hopes the U.S. Federal Reserve could get less aggressive with interest rate hikes.
“The market had seen a good run-up from those lows and had continued to move higher,” said George Catrambone, head of Americas trading at DWS Group. “The market has a lot to think about and digest as we get into year end.”
Fed Governor Christopher Waller, an early and outspoken inflation hawk, said he is now “more comfortable” with smaller rate increases going forward after data showed price increases slowing.
Investors also were watching geopolitical tensions. A missile that hit Poland was probably a stray fired by Ukraine’s air defenses and not a Russian strike, Poland and NATO said, easing global concern that the war in Ukraine could spill across the border.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.96-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.23-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 3 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 71 new highs and 133 new lows.
About 10.5 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 12.2 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.