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S&P, Dow, Nasdaq fall as key Fed week starts; indices on track for solid monthly gains

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Wall Street’s major averages were on track to post hefty gains for the month of October despite retreating on Monday. The S&P and Dow were on course to clock monthly gains of over 7% and 13%, respectively, while the Nasdaq was also looking to end in the green even though megacap technology firms disappointed with their quarterly results.

The main focus this week will be more corporate earnings and the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting decision, which investors will closely watch for any indications as to whether the central bank would begin to slow its pace of rate hikes as early as December.

By late afternoon, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (COMP.IND) was down 1.12% at 10,978.39 points. The benchmark S&P 500 (SP500) had lost 0.81% to 3,869.42 points, while the blue-chip Dow (DJI) was 0.45% lower at 32,714.72 points.

All three indices had rallied more than 2% on Friday and posted hefty gains for the week, as hopes of moderation in the Fed’s rate hikes and some economic data that showed higher rates were having their intended effect on cooling the economy helped offset a slide in major technology companies.

Ten of the 11 S&P sectors were trading in the red, with Communication Services the top loser. Energy was the only sector in the green.

Wall Street Journal’s Nick Timiraos in an article on Sunday said strong consumer balance sheets could mean higher interest rates for longer. Timiraos, who is considered to be very close to the FOMC’s thinking, earlier this month sparked the Fed pivot hopes rally when he reported that policymakers would discuss smaller hikes.

Goldman Sachs believes that this week’s trading action will depend on what Fed chief Jerome Powell will say and whether he is ok with much looser financial conditions.

“With regards to the Fed, a fourth successive 75bps has long been pretty much nailed on but the subsequent path of hikes is now up for grabs and will be the key focus from this week’s meeting,” Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid said.

“It feels inconceivable to us, given how spectacularly forward guidance has broken down across the global markets over the last 12 months, that Powell will try to guide too aggressively forDecember, especially with two payrolls (one this week) and two CPIs to come before they meet again,” Reid added.

Market participants will also be looking out for policymakers’ comments on inflation, which remains elevated in the U.S. and globally. Earlier in the day, data showed that consumer inflation in the Eurozone accelerated to a record high.

Rates advanced on Monday. Both the 10-year Treasury yield (US10Y) and the 2-year yield (US2Y) were up 10 basis points each to 4.11% and 4.52%, respectively. The dollar index (DXY) was 0.80% higher.

Turning to economic news, October Chicago PMI data showed an unexpected fall, coming in at 45.2 versus consensus of 47. The October Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey came in at -19.4, compared to a prior reading of -17.2. Friday’s jobs report is also in focus, as it is the last one to be published before the U.S. midterm elections begin.

In earnings news, last week saw the FAANG group of companies close out their quarterly results, with Netflix and Apple the only bright spots. Alphabet, Amazon and Meta Platforms disappointed. The five megacap stocks were down on Monday, with Meta sliding more than 6%. This week will see companies such as Starbucks and Pfizer reveal numbers.

Among active stocks, Wynn Resorts was the top S&P 500 gainer after the casino operator disclosed a sizeable stake by Landry’s owner Tilman Fertitta. Emerson Electric was marginally lower after reporting results and the sale of a 55% stake in its climate-technologies unit to Blackstone. Airbnb fell ahead of its results tomorrow.

In global events, Lula da Silva made a return to the presidency in Brazil.

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