U.S. stocks were struggling to stay afloat Tuesday as Wall Street processed hawkish rate talk from Federal Reserve officials and mulled remarks from Chair Jerome Powell at an event hosted by Sweden’s central bank.
The S&P 500 (^GSPC) and Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) were each up a modest 0.1% around noon after rising at the open and then briefly turning negative. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) moved up 0.2%.
Powell reiterated the importance of stable inflation in a speech Tuesday at the Symposium on Central Bank Independence in Stockholm, Sweden, adding that leveling out prices can require the Fed to take actions that are necessary, even if often unpopular.
“The case for monetary policy independence lies in the benefits of insulating monetary policy decisions from short-term political considerations,” he said.
Elsewhere in a busy week of Fedspeak, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle Bowman asserted on Tuesday that there remains more work to do on fighting inflation despite recent improvements in the data and said the Fed will continue raising interest rates to reach its 2% long-term price stability goal.
“I am committed to taking further actions to bring inflation back down to our goal,” Bowman said at the Florida Bankers Association Leadership Luncheon in Miami, Florida.
In specific market moves, shares of Coinbase (COIN) rose 4.9% after the cryptocurrency exchange said it would cut nearly 1,000 jobs as part of a restructuring plan. The company expects to incur roughly $149 million to $163 million in restructuring expenses. The move will mark the third round of layoffs for Coinbase since last year.
Shares of billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit Holdings (VORB) plunged 10% after one of the company’s rockets failed to reach its target orbit in a highly anticipated space mission due to a technical failure.
Investors continued to watch shares of beleaguered retailer Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) as it reported earnings that missed estimates, just one week after revealing the company was considering bankruptcy due to its financial struggles. The meme stock spiked nearly 20% on Tuesday after a 24% surge Monday.
“As we shared last week, we continue to work with advisors as we consider all strategic alternatives to accomplish our near- and long-term goals,” CEO Sue Gove said in an update Tuesday, adding that “multiple paths are being explored.”
Bumble (BMBL) shares rose 5% in early trading after KeyBanc upgraded the female-founded dating app from Sector Weight to Overweight and said the “competitive environment appears stable, and economic pressures are easing.”
Oak Street Health (OSH) shares spiked 28% after Bloomberg News reported Monday that CVS Health is exploring an acquisition of the operator of primary care centers.
Tuesday’s moves come after a mixed start to the week that saw the technology-heavy Nasdaq extend gains from a rally Friday while the other two major averages failed to sustain momentum. The Nasdaq rose 0.6% on Monday, while the S&P 500 and Dow each closed down 0.1% and 0.3%, respectively, following hawkish remarks from two Federal Reserve officials.
San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said during a live-streamed interview with the Wall Street Journal that she expects policymakers will raise interest rates to somewhere above 5%, while adding that the final rate will ultimately depend on the path of inflation.
Echoing that view, Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic also said the U.S. central bank should raise interest rates above 5% by early in the second quarter and then hold them there for a “long time.”
“I am not a pivot guy,” Bostic said in remarks at the Atlanta Rotary Club on Monday. “I think we should pause and hold there, and let the policy work.”
Thursday will bring investors December’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) – perhaps the most important economic release of the month and the last significant reading before Federal Reserve officials meet Jan. 31-Feb. 1 to deliver their next interest rate increase.
Economists expect headline CPI rose 6.6% over the prior year in December, a downshift from the 7.1% increase seen in November, according to data from Bloomberg. On a month-over-month basis, CPI likely stayed flat.
The report is likely to sway bets on whether the Federal Reserve raises interest rates by 0.25% or 0.50% at the start of next month.
Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc
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