U.S. stocks turned lower on Friday, with the major indexes heading for steep weekly losses as concerns over the resilience of corporate profits in the face of inflation resurged this week.
The S&P 500 traded lower, erasing earlier gains after China’s central bank unexpectedly cut a benchmark interest rate to offer some relief to borrowers in the country still grappling with a widespread COVID-19 outbreak.
The Dow shed more than 250 points, or 0.8%, shortly before 11:30 a.m. ET, and the Nasdaq dropped more than 1%. Treasury yields sank, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note sinking to just above 2.8%, and U.S. crude oil prices edged up to more than $112 per barrel.
The losses Friday for the major U.S. stock indexes extended a slide seen earlier this week. As of Thursday’s close, the S&P 500 was on track for a weekly loss of 5.4% — its biggest since January. The index was also down 18.7% from its recent record close from Jan. 3, bringing it within striking distance of a bear market, or drop of at least 20% from a recent all-time high. And the S&P 500 was also on track to post a seventh straight weekly loss, or its longest losing streak since 2001. The Dow and Nasdaq paced toward weekly losses of 5% and 6.2%, respectively.
The latest bout of volatility came in the wake of weaker-than-expected earnings results and guidance from some of the major U.S. retailers, which appeared to confirm fears that companies were having more difficulty passing on rising costs to consumers. Ross Stores (ROST) late Thursday became the latest major retailer to cut its full-year guidance, joining Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT) in highlighting the impact inflation and supply chain disruptions have had on profitability. Shares of Ross slid 25% just after market open for the stock’s biggest slide since 1986, and Target and Walmart each headed for weekly losses of about 30% and 20%, respectively.
“Unfortunately there’s no safe haven. When we see the news that came out of consumer discretionary and staples … that shows the struggles that companies have regardless of their size,” Eva…