Monday, September 20

Wall Street mixed as tax hikes, inflation data looms


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NEW YORK — Wall Street stocks wavered on Monday, struggling to regain ground lost in last week’s bruising sell-off, but economically sensitive shares rose as investors focused on potential corporate tax hikes and upcoming economic data.

The three major US indexes were mixed, with the bellwether S&P 500 index essentially flat as it flirts with the prospect of extending its five-day losing streak.

But while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was green, market leading tech and tech-adjacent shares pulled the Nasdaq Composite Index into the red.

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Investors favored value stocks over growth, with stocks set to benefit most from a resurging economy enjoying the biggest percentage gains.

“We had a good rally in the beginning of the day, but it’s faded,” said Oliver Pursche, senior vice president at Wealthspire Advisors, in New York.

“September’s always bumpy and we saw that last week,” Pursche added. “But generally speaking the environment is positive for stocks and probably will be through the end of the year.”

Market participants are focused on the likely passage of US President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget package, which is expected to include a proposed corporate tax rate hike to 26.5% from 21%.

Goldman Sachs analysts see the corporate tax rate increasing to 25% and the passage of about half of a proposed increase to tax rates on foreign income, which they estimate would reduce S&P 500 earnings by 5% in 2022.

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But Pursche believes the corporate tax increase is likely to be smaller.

“Any tax hikes are going to be challenging to pass and are going to be much milder than what the Democrats want,” Pursche said.

The Labor Department is due to release its consumer price index data on Tuesday, which could shed further light on the current inflation wave and whether it is as transitory as the Fed insists.

Other key indicators due this week include retail sales and consumer sentiment, which could illuminate how much the demand boom driven by economic re-engagement has been dampened by the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 135.46 points, or 0.39%, to 34,743.18, the S&P 500 lost 2.64 points, or 0.06%, at 4,455.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 31.55 points, or 0.21%, to 15,083.95.

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Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, healthcare suffered the largest percentage loss, while energy, buoyed by rising crude prices was the biggest gainer.

Shares of vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer Inc sank 6.4% and 2.8%, respectively, after experts said COVID booster shots are not widely needed.

Coinbase Global Inc announced plans to raise about $1.5 billion through a debt offering aimed at funding product development and potential acquisitions. The cryptocurrency exchanges shares slid 2.9%.

Salesforce.com Inc dipped 1.7% as rival Freshworks Inc’s regulatory filing indicated that the business engagement and customer engagement software company is aiming for a nearly $9 billion valuation in it US debut.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.46-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.07-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and one new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 44 new highs and 65 new lows. (Reporting by Stephen Culp; Additional reporting by Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang)

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