S&P 500, Dow fall after inflation data; Big Tech supports Nasdaq

The S&P 500 and Dow Jones struggled to make gains on Friday as signs that inflation was here to stay eclipsed expectations of an easing in U.S.-China tensions, while a rise in heavyweight technology firms supported the Nasdaq.

Data earlier in the day showed U.S. producer prices rose solidly in August, leading to the biggest annual gain in nearly 11 years, as the unrelenting pandemic continues to pressure supply chains.

“Today’s data on wholesale prices should be eye-opening for the Federal Reserve, as inflation pressures still don’t appear to be easing and will likely continue to be felt by the consumer in the coming months,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management.

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The market was also weighed down by comments from Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank President Loretta Mester that she would still like the central bank to begin tapering asset purchases this year despite the weak August jobs report.

High-flying growth stocks such as Apple Inc, Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc and Amazon.com Inc rose in early trading, supporting the Nasdaq.

A phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping earlier in the day, their first talks in seven months, was taken as a positive sign that could bring a thaw in ties between the world’s two most important trading partners.

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U.S.-listed Chinese e-commerce companies Alibaba and JD.com, ride-hailing firm Didi, music streaming company Tencent Music and electric car maker Nio Inc all gained between 1.1 per cent and 1.8 per cent.

Seven of the eleven S&P 500 sub-indexes retreated, with ulilities, real estate and healthcare stocks leading declines.

At 10:39 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 101.60 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 34,777.78, the S&P 500 was down 5.72 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 4,487.56, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 3.92 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 15,252.18.

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All the indexes were on track to end the week lower.

Grocer Kroger Co dropped 9.0 per cent even after it said it expected a smaller decline in annual same-store sales.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.08-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.46-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

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The S&P index recorded 12 new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 41 new highs and 24 new lows.

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