By Damian J. Troise
Stocks closed broadly lower after a day of choppy trading on Wall Street Monday as investors prepare for a busy week of corporate earnings and inflation updates.
The major indexes made early gains, but slowly fizzled as the day progressed. The S&P 500 fell 30.15 points, or 0.7%, to 4,361.19. The benchmark index gained as much as 0.6% in the early going.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 250.19 points, or 0.7%, to 34,496.06 and the Nasdaq shed 93.34 points, or 0.6%, to 14,486.20.
Technology and communications stocks had some of the biggest losses. Facebook fell 1.4% and Intuit fell 1.1%.
Most sectors ended in the red. Real estate stocks, which are seen as relatively less risky, were among the few bright spots within the S&P 500.
Bond trading was closed for the Columbus Day holiday. The price of U.S. crude oil rose 1.5% to over $80 a barrel.
Investors are looking ahead to the beginning of company earnings this week. Analysts have said that the latest round of corporate results could help give the market more direction after several choppy weeks. Stocks have been swaying between between gains and losses as investors try to better gauge the direction of the economic recovery through the rest of the year.
Banks will be among the first big companies to report their latest financial results and give investors more insight into how companies are faring amid concerns over the lingering virus pandemic and rising inflation.
JPMorgan Chase delivers its results on Wednesday. Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup will report results on Thursday.
Delta Air Lines will report its latest results on Wednesday. The airline industry is still struggling to recover from the pandemic shutdowns that began 18 months ago. Investors will be closely monitoring the industry's results to see how much of an impact the summer surge of COVID-19 cases had on the industry.
Wall Street faced a quiet day of corporate news ahead of earnings. Southwest Airlines fell 4.2% after dealing with hundreds of flight cancellations over the weekend. Toymaker Hasbro fell 1.6% after announcing that CEO Brian D. Goldner is taking a medical leave of absence.
Investors are also looking ahead to economic data this week that could shed more light on what's going on with inflation. The Labor Department will release its Consumer Price Index on Wednesday and its Producer Price Index on Thursday. The reports detail pressure from inflation on consumers and businesses.
Companies from a wide range of industries have warned investors that supply chain problems and higher raw materials costs could crimp their financial results for the rest of the year. Wall Street is closely monitoring whether those higher costs and resulting higher prices for goods will hurt consumer spending, which is a key driver of economic growth.
Inflation will likely remain the dominant theme swirling over markets through 2021 and into 2022, said Jay Hatfield, CEO of Infrastructure Capital Advisors. The upcoming Consumer Price Index data on Wednesday is likely going to be hotter than Wall Street expects, he added.
“Right when you’re going into earnings you have this CPI bomb that could go off,” he said. “We have a demand problem and a supply problem; there are too many dollars chasing too few goods.”
Updated on October 11, 2021, at 4:45 p.m. ET.