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The Week's Top Stories: Ford Tough, Bank Headwinds & Holiday Slowdown

From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, these are the top stories that moved markets and had investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs talking this week on Cheddar.

BANK EARNINGS BUST 

Lackluster earnings reports from the biggest banks on Friday capped off an already rocky week for Wall Street. The Dow Jones dropped more than 300 points as shares of JPMorgan and Citigroup slipped following reports of falling profits in the fourth quarter. Don't feel too bad for the bankers though. One weak quarter doesn't change the fact that banks saw record profits in 2021, as the pandemic fueled a boom in financial markets. This could be a sign that 2022 may be a very different year for some of the biggest players in the market. 

TECH STOCKS WOES

On that note, tech stocks' early 2022 doldrums continued with more losses this week. The Nasdaq slumped 2.5 percent on Thursday, which was its biggest drop since October, while the other major indexes weren't far behind. Benchmark stocks such as Apple and Microsoft fueled the slide, with shares falling 1.9 percent 4.2 percent respectively, though they've since recovered. The tech-led tumble came as markets brace for interest rate hikes in 2022. Fed Chair Jerome Powell confirmed during his nomination hearing that rate hikes were on the table, while JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon speculated that the Fed could raise rates five to six times this year. The Nasdaq ended Friday on a high note, up more than half of a percent.

INFLATION HITS 40-YEAR HIGH

The case for rate hikes intensified this week with another headline-grabbing inflation report. The consumer price index showed a 7 percent jump in prices for December, which is the largest gain since 1982. Though supply chain constraints still appear to be contributing the lion's share of inflation, with automobiles and other durable goods posting the biggest price hikes, the sticker shock has stirred up a fresh round of debate on how the Fed and Biden administration should respond. In an otherwise tough week for the markets, however, investors took the news in stride.  

RETAIL SALES SLIP

While heavy demand for goods is at least partly responsible for the latest inflation numbers, retail sales dipped slightly in the heart of the holiday season. The latest Commerce Department data shows a 1.9 percent drop in sales in December. Economists are pointing to higher prices and the ongoing omicron outbreak as the cause of the dip in spending. At the same time, many have pointed to the fact that holiday shopping is beginning earlier and earlier, so some of that seasonal pop may have been distributed over the prior months. 

FORD CROSSES $100B

If high inflation, falling profits, and sinking shares have you down, Ford has a pick me up. The U.S. automaker crossed the $100 billion market cap for the first time this week. The symbolic victory comes amid strong tailwinds for the company, which saw its shares double in value last year. While Tesla continues to leave other automakers in the dust in terms of stock value, Ford's plan to double production for the electric version of its F-150 has placed it in the running. 
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