U.S. stocks retreated for a second day, with investors anxious about corporate profits as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. predicted earnings will decline next year and quarterly results from JPMorgan Chase & Co. disappointed.
Wal-Mart's tumble sent equities lower after shares had fluctuated in early trading. The S&P 500 has lost momentum after its strongest week since December as investors look to earnings season for a better gauge on the outlook for corporate profits. The index has gained 3.9 percent this month, and is up 6.8 percent from an August selloff closing low as it fights back from the worst quarter since 2011.
Analysts project profits for S&P 500 members dropped 7.2 percent in the third quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. are among 16 companies in the index due to report results on Thursday.
Asian and European shares slipped today after a report showed China's factory gate deflation extended a record stretch of declines while inflation moderated. Weak imports data out of China helped send the S&P 500 lower yesterday.
U.S. data today showed retail sales in September rose less than forecast as Americans increased their savings, while the prior month was weaker than previously reported. Sluggish sales may raise concern about whether the staying power of consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, at a time overseas demand is also cooling. A separate report showed falling energy costs damped wholesale inflation, as the producer price index decreased the most since January.
Federal Reserve officials last month left interest rates unchanged, opting to monitor the risk that China's slowdown could spill over to the U.S. After today's data from both China and the U.S., traders are now pricing in a 29 percent chance the central bank raises rates this year, while odds of a March increase are about 49 percent, down from 62 percent on Monday.
Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo told CNBC yesterday that he doesn't currently favor raising rates in 2015. That lines him up with fellow Governor Lael Brainard, who made the case on Monday for patience, and diverges from the majority of Federal Open Market Committee members including Chair Janet Yellen.
The central bank's Beige Book report on regional economic conditions released today showed the economy grew modestly with little inflation pressure from mid-August to early October as a strong dollar weighed on manufacturing and tourism. Six of the 12 Fed districts called the expansion "modest," while three reported "moderate" growth.