A hot inflation print and the growing concern of a Russian invasion of Ukraine sent stocks tumbling late in the week, leaving major indices lower for the five-trading days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average skidded 1.00%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 retreated 1.82%. The Nasdaq Composite index slumped 2.18%. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, advanced 2.26%.1,2,3
A Double Whammy
Mid-week, a fresh batch of positive corporate earnings surprises lifted investor sentiment, helping stocks claw back losses with technology stocks posting some of the sharpest gains. But January’s inflation report, set for release on Thursday morning, remained investors’ biggest concern.
When the report hit, it showed accelerating inflation, and stocks dropped and bond yields bounded higher. Stocks managed to recover from the initial reaction to the unexpectedly high inflation number. But when the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis commented that the Fed may consider a more aggressive move against inflation, stocks resumed their slide lower. The stock skid accelerated into Friday on White House reports that an invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces may be imminent.4
Prices of consumer goods accelerated in January, rising 0.6% from the previous month and 7.5% year-over-year. This annual inflation rate was the highest since 1982. Core inflation, which excludes the more volatile food and energy prices, was 6.0% higher from last January.5
Many economists and market analysts had expected inflation to moderate, but driven by a surge in prices of used cars, gasoline, and energy, inflation remained at elevated levels. The persistence of inflation at these heights has fueled investor concerns that the Fed might consider a more aggressive 50-basis points increase in short term interest rate.
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Footnotes and Sources
1. The Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2022
2. The Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2022
3. The Wall Street Journal, February 11, 2022
4. CNBC, February 10, 2022
5. CNBC, February 10, 2022
6. IRS.gov, September 1, 2021
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