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Economy

Wall Street slips as inflation jitters spark broad sell-off

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Wall Street lost ground on Tuesday as rising commodity prices and labor shortages fueled fears that, despite reassurances from the U.S. Federal Reserve, near-term price spikes could translate into longer-term inflation.

By late afternoon the indexes were off their session lows, but the sell-off was fairly evenly dispersed across the sectors.

Economic data released on Tuesday from the Labor Department showed job openings at U.S. companies jumped to a record high in March, further evidence of the labor shortage hinted by Friday’s disappointing employment report.

The report suggests labor supply is not keeping up with surging demand as employers scramble to find qualified workers.

Burrito chain Chipotle Mexican Grill announced it would hike the average hourly wage of its workers to $15, a further sign that the worker shortage in the face of a demand revival could add fuel to the inflation surge.

That worker shortage, along with a supply drought in the face of booming demand could contribute to what is seen as inevitable prices spikes, which the U.S. Federal Reserve has repeatedly said are unlikely to translate into long-term inflation.

“The market is beginning to debate whether or not the Fed is right on inflation,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York. “Will this be more than transitory? That’s what the market is beginning to discount.”

Market participants will scrutinize the Labor Department’s CPI report, due early Wednesday, for further signs of potential inflationary pressures. (Graphic on inflation) https://tmsnrt.rs/2SxpkST

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 456.51 points, or 1.31%, to 34,286.31, the S&P 500 lost 33.76 points, or 0.81%, to 4,154.67 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 5.58 points, or 0.04%, to 13,396.28.

All 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 were in negative territory, with energy stocks suffering the largest percentage loss.

The CBOE Volatility index, a measure of investor anxiety, touched its highest level in two months.

First-quarter reporting season, which is providing the first year-on-year comparison to pandemic-related shutdowns, is approaching the finish line with 451 constituents of the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 86.9% have beaten consensus expectations, according to Refinitiv IBES.

Analysts now see first-quarter S&P earnings growth of 50.5% year on year, up substantially from the 16% growth forecast at the beginning of the year, per Refinitiv.

Boeing Co was down 1.6% after the planemaker announced deliveries of its 737 MAX fell to just four planes in April due to an electrical problem.

Tesla Inc continued its slide, dropping 1.2% following the electric automaker’s decision to expand its Shanghai plant owing to heightened U.S.-China tensions.

Mall REIT Simon Property Group Inc fell 2.3% after the company said it does not expect a return to 2019 occupancy levels until next year or 2023.

L Brands Inc announced it will split into two publicly traded companies, Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret. Its stock dropped 3.3%.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.99-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.48-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted five new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 18 new highs and 216 new lows.

(Reporting by Stephen CulpAdditional reporting by Medha Singh and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Economy

Canadian retail sales slide in April, May as COVID-19 shutdown bites

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december retail sales

Canadian retail sales plunged in April and May, as shops and other businesses were shuttered amid a third wave of COVID-19 infections, Statistics Canada data showed on Wednesday.

Retail trade fell 5.7% in April, the sharpest decline in a year, missing analyst forecasts of a 5.0% drop. In a preliminary estimate, Statscan said May retail sales likely fell by 3.2% as store closures dragged on.

“April showers brought no May flowers for Canadian retailers this year,” Royce Mendes, senior economist at CIBC Capital Markets, said in a note.

Statscan said that 5.0% of retailers were closed at some point in April. The average length of the closure was one day, it said, citing respondent feedback.

Sales decreased in nine of the 11 subsectors, while core sales, which exclude gasoline stations and motor vehicles, were down 7.6% in April.

Clothing and accessory store sales fell 28.6%, with sales at building material and garden equipment stores falling for the first time in nine months, by 10.4%.

“These results continue to suggest that the Bank of Canada is too optimistic on the growth outlook for the second quarter, even if there is a solid rebound occurring now in June,” Mendes said.

The central bank said in April that it expects Canada’s economy to grow 6.5% in 2021 and signaled interest rates could begin to rise in the second half of 2022.

The Canadian dollar held on to earlier gains after the data, trading up 0.3% at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents.

(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa, additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto, editing by Alexander Smith)

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Economy

Canadian dollar notches a 6-day high

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Canadian dollar

The Canadian dollar strengthened for a third day against its U.S. counterpart on Wednesday, as oil prices rose and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reassured markets that the central bank is not rushing to hike rates.

Markets were rattled last week when the Fed shifted to more hawkish guidance. But Powell on Tuesday said the economic recovery required more time before any tapering of stimulus and higher borrowing costs are appropriate, helping Wall Street recoup last week’s decline.

Canada is a major producer of commodities, including oil, so its economy is highly geared to the economic cycle.

Brent crude rose above $75 a barrel, reaching its highest since late 2018, after an industry report on U.S. crude inventories reinforced views of a tightening market as travel picks up in Europe and North America.

The Canadian dollar was trading 0.3% higher at 1.2271 to the greenback, or 81.49 U.S. cents, after touching its strongest level since last Thursday at 1.2265.

The currency also gained ground on Monday and Tuesday, clawing back some of its decline from last week.

Canadian retail sales fell by 5.7% in April from March as provincial governments put in place restrictions to tackle a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Statistics Canada said. A flash estimate showed sales down 3.2% in May.

Still, the Bank of Canada expects consumer spending to lead a strong rebound in the domestic economy as vaccinations climb and containment measures ease.

Canadian government bond yields were mixed across a steeper curve, with the 10-year up nearly 1 basis point at 1.416%. Last Friday, it touched a 3-1/2-month low at 1.364%.

(Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Economy

Toronto Stock Exchange higher at open as energy stocks gain

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Toronto Stock Exchange edged higher at open on Wednesday as heavyweight energy stocks advanced, while data showing a plunge in domestic retail sales in April and May capped the gains.

* At 9:30 a.m. ET (13:30 GMT), the Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was up 16.77 points, or 0.08%, at 20,217.42.

(Reporting by Amal S in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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