The Week's Top Stories is a guided tour through the biggest market stories of the week, from winning stocks to brutal dips to the facts and forecasts generating buzz on Wall Street.
Disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested Monday night by Bahamian authorities at the request of the U.S. government. Prosecutors have since filed eight criminal charges against him, and multiple government agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, have filed parallel actions. The arrest came after weeks of Bankman-Fried denying criminal intent, and one day before the Bahamas resident was set to appear before Congress alongside FTX's current CEO John Ray III. Ray, who previously helped restructure Enron, told lawmakers that the company's collapse was a case of "old-fashioned embezzlement."
As for the rest of the economy outside of crypto-land, the consumer price index (CPI) for November showed inflation easing for the fifth month in a row. The annual rate is now 7.1 percent, down from a June peak of 9.1 percent. Among the major categories, energy, medical care services, and used cars and trucks all fell in price. Food and shelter costs, meanwhile, continued to tick upward, though at a slightly slower pace than recent months.
FED HIKES RATES
This moderation set the floor for the Federal Reserve to move ahead with a smaller rate hike on Wednesday, as many investors and economists had expected. The central bank raised its benchmark rate by 50 basis points after four consecutive 75-basis-point hikes this year. This might have calmed markets, but along with the rate hike, the Fed also released new projections showing that most FOMC participants see more rate hikes coming in 2023. The major indices plunged on the news and had yet to bounce back as of the close of markets on Friday.
RETAIL SALES DECLINE
More bad news for the economy came on Thursday. The Commerce Department released its monthly retail sales numbers for November, which showed a 0.6 percent decline. This was the biggest drop in nearly a year, and all the more worrying that it came in the middle of the holiday shopping season. While economists noted that 2022 has been a strong year overall for retailers, the end-of-year drop-off in spending could signal that American consumers are losing steam. On a positive note, auto experts are expecting lagging car sales to recover in 2023.
MODERNA STOCK SOARS
Beating the market this week was Moderna, known for its COVID-19 vaccine. The stock soared 20 percent after the company announced that its experimental melanoma vaccine can cut the risk of skin cancer recurrence or death by 44 percent when combined with Merck's Keytruda cancer treatment. Shares were up more than 10 percent for the week at close of markets on Friday.