Stocks Fall as Bond Yields Rise and Walmart's Earnings Disappoint

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Stocks fell Thursday as bond yields resumed their climb and earnings from retail giant Walmart  (WMT) – Get Report disappointed.

Equities also were lower following a Labor Department report that said weekly jobless claims in the U.S. rose more than expected. Jobless claims rose to 861,000, the highest reading in a month.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to above 1.3%, near its highest level in a year. The rise in yields has increased concerns about higher inflation.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 297 points, or 0.94%, to 31,315, the S&P 500 declined 1.07% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq slumped 1.68% as technology-related companies can be more vulnerable to inflation pressures.

Shares of Walmart  (WMT) – Get Report dropped almost 6% after the world’s largest retailer posted weaker-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings but did manage sales of more than $150 billion.

The company, however, Walmart said it expects fiscal 2022 sales to rise by only low single digits, with operating income and earnings to be flat to up slightly.

Walmart pledged to boost average employee wages to $15 an hour and boost total capital expenditures to $14 billion. 

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve said in minutes from its meeting in late January that the coronavirus pandemic still poses “considerable risks” to the economy and that “the stance for policy would need to remain accommodative until those goals were achieved.” The Fed added it would be “some time” before conditions were met for it to begin scaling back on its purchase of $120 billion of bonds per month.

The minutes also revealed Fed officials weren’t terribly concerned about recent inflation pressures. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has cautioned that inflation could rise, but only temporarily, as the economy reopens.

Energy prices rose again Thursday, with Brent crude nearing $65 a barrel, as a deep freeze in Texas has taken out almost 40% of U.S. crude production, according to Bloomberg.

The Dow posted a record close for a second day in mixed trading Wednesday as U.S. retail sales and producer prices surged in January and bond yields traded at their highest levels in a year.

GameStop  (GME) – Get Report was down 4% Thursday ahead of a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee that will focus on the recent trading frenzy surrounding the stock of the video game retailer and other heavily shorted stocks.

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