Stock market today: Wall Street slips further away from records amid inflation worries

FILE - People stand in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's stock prices at a securities firm Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Tokyo. Asian markets retreated Friday, March 15, with Hong Kong’s benchmark falling nearly 2%, after a mixed batch of data on the U.S. economy dashed hopes that easier interest rates are coming soon.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

FILE – People stand in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan’s stock prices at a securities firm Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, in Tokyo. Asian markets retreated Friday, March 15, with Hong Kong’s benchmark falling nearly 2%, after a mixed batch of data on the U.S. economy dashed hopes that easier interest rates are coming soon.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)

Wall Street closed out its second straight losing week Friday, giving back some of the gains that helped push the stock market to an all-time high earlier in the week.

The S&P 500 fell 0.6%, its third straight loss. The benchmark index hit a record high on Tuesday, but mostly wavered in the days that followed.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5%, while the Nasdaq composite ended 1% lower.

Technology stocks were the biggest weights on the market. Software maker Adobe slumped 13.7% after giving investors a weak revenue forecast. Microsoft fell 2.1% and Broadcom lost 2.1%.

Communication services stocks also helped pull the market lower. Meta Platforms fell 1.6% and Google parent Alphabet fell 1.3%.

All told, the S&P 500 fell 33.39 points to 5,117.09. The Dow dropped 190.89 points to 38,714.77, and the Nasdaq gave up 155.36 points to 15,973.17.

The latest pullback for stocks came as traders reviewed several reports showing that inflation, though broadly cooling, remains stubborn.

A closely-watched report from the University of Michigan showed that consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell in March. Consumers became slightly less optimistic about the economy, but continue to expect inflation to come down further, a potential sign that consumer prices will come under control.

Inflation remains the big concern for Wall Street amid hopes for the Federal Reserve to start cutting interest rates. The Fed sharply raised interest rates starting in 2022 in an effort to tame inflation back to its 2% target. Inflation at the consumer level was as high as 9.1% in 2022.

A report on consumer prices this week showed inflation remains stubborn, ticking up to 3.2% in February from 3.1% in January. Another report on prices at the wholesale level also showed inflation remains hotter than Wall Street expected.

Other reports this week showed some softening in the economy, which bolstered hopes for a continued long-term easing of inflation.

A rally for stocks that started in October has essentially stalled in March as investors try to determine the path ahead for inflation, the Fed and the economy.

“You can kind of look in either direction and find a find a reason to be concerned about equities,” said Brian Nick, senior investment strategist at The Macro Institute.

Investors still have to worry about the lagging impact on the economy from the Fed’s historic rate hikes, he said. The broader economy remains strong, but it is showing signs of slowing and that could mean a recession is still possible.

“Things happen more slowly than investors have come to process,” he said. “Policy lag exerting a downward pull is a lot longer than what investors have priced in.”

Fed officials will give their latest forecasts for where they see interest rates heading this year on Wednesday, following their latest policy meeting. Traders are still leaning toward a rate cut in June, according to data from CME Group. The Fed’s main rate remains at its highest level since 2001.

The central bank has held the benchmark rate steady since July 2023 and has previously signaled that it expects three rate cuts in 2024. Lower rates would relieve pressure on the economy and financial system.

Bond yields edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.31% from 4.29% late Thursday. The yield on the 2-year Treasury, rose 4.73% from 4.69%.

Weak financial forecasts weighed down several companies. Beauty products retailer Ulta Beauty fell 5.2% after giving investors a disappointing earnings forecast for the year. Electronics maker Jabil slumped 16.5% after trimming its revenue forecast for the year.

Markets in Europe ended mixed, while markets in Asia slipped.

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AP Business Writers Elaine Kurtenbach, Matt Ott, Alex Veiga and AP Economics Writer Christopher Rugaber, contributed to this report.

AP Business

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