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Wall Street grinds out gains as investors digest mixed data

(Reuters) – U.S. shares reversed course to commerce marginally larger on Wednesday as investors digested stronger-than-expected inflation data and a shock drop in January retail gross sales, which shifted the main target from rising inflation to the prospect of stagflation.

The Labor Department’s core Consumer Price Index, which excluded the risky meals and vitality elements, elevated zero.three p.c in January. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a rise of zero.2 p.c. However, the year-on-year rise was unchanged at 1.eight p.c.

The CPI data once more raised the specter of rising inflation and rekindled fears that the Federal Reserve may very well be compelled to be extra aggressive with financial coverage.

However, data confirmed U.S. retail gross sales fell zero.three p.c final month, the largest decline in almost a 12 months and a shock drop in contrast with economists’ estimates of a zero.2 p.c improve.

U.S inventory futures fell greater than 1 p.c after data was launched at eight:30 a.m. ET. An hour later, the inventory market opened a 3rd of a p.c decrease and has slowly pared losses since.

“The initial reactions were amplified. We took a big dive in equity markets and now, as we digest the numbers a little bit further, people are starting to calm down,” stated Jim Smigiel, head and chief funding officer of Absolute Return Strategies at SEI Investments in Philadelphia.

“The number suggests the notion of stagflation, higher than expected inflation numbers and weaker than expected consumption which is a negative growth in the United States. That’s not the narrative that the plethora of data really supports.”

By 11:03 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose zero.1 p.c to 24,664.07. The S&P 500 .SPX gained zero.35 p.c to 2,672.2 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up zero.82 p.c at 7,071.13.

“I think the market is trying to find a bottom here. The market is not looking for any serious downleg from where we are today,” Smigiel added.

Benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yields US10YT=RR have been close to their session highs, however a key measure of near-term volatility fell, in distinction to its response to robust U.S. jobs and wages data earlier within the month.

The CBOE Volatility index .VIX was down at 21.10 factors, slipping under 20 for the primary time since Feb. 5 and effectively off the 50-point mark it hit throughout final week’s sell-off.

Seven of the 11 main S&P 500 sectors have been larger. The losers included the usually defensive sectors: client staples .SPLRCS, utilities .SPLRCU and actual property .SPLRCR.

Among shares, Fossil (FOSL.O) rose 55.7 p.c after short-sellers rushed to cowl their positions, a day after the watchmaker posted robust holiday-quarter gross sales.

Chipotle (CMG.N) jumped about 14.three p.c after it employed Brian Niccol from Taco Bell as its subsequent chief govt, which analysts stated sparked hopes of a faster turnaround.

Advancing points outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,727 to 1,067. On the Nasdaq, 1,907 points rose and 864 fell.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza

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