U.S. stocks pared gains and fell in the final hour of trading Tuesday to close a second straight session in the red as investors assessed fresh inflation data out of Washington that showed prices in March further accelerated to a new 40-year high.
The S&P 500 retreated to fall 0.3%, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up an intraday climb to cap trading roughly 90 points lower. The Nasdaq Composite faltered after an earlier advance, declining 0.3%. Meanwhile, Treasury yields slightly retreated, but the benchmark 10-year yield remained above 2.7%, the highest level since January 2019.
The moves follow an earlier bounce in stocks after some key elements in the Tuesday’s read on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) came in less severe than anticipated, with the core figure coming in close to consensus numbers.
“While today’s inflation print hit a four-decade high, there was a sigh of relief as some components of core inflation weakened,” Allianz Investment Management senior investment strategist Charlie Ripley said in a note.
Investors were focused on the latest gauge on inflation in the U.S. in Tuesday’s session. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) CPI index rose 8.5% in March compared to the same month last year, according to the latest report released Tuesday. The figure marks the fastest rise since December 1981 and follows a 7.9% annual increase in February. Heading into the report, consensus economists were looking for an 8.4% jump for March, according to Bloomberg data.
“Regarding peak inflation, we have been at this juncture before where subtle shifts within the data make it appear that the level of inflation has reached its peak for the cycle only to keep marching higher,” Ripley said. “Going forward, the greater concern is really around how entrenched inflation has become as Americans continue to worry about rising prices.”
The red-hot print comes as investors grapple with the likelihood Fed officials will act more aggressively to combat inflation after a hawkish readout of minutes last week from the central bank’s March meeting suggested “many”…