U.S. equities log weekly decline amid pandemic worries, mixed economic data

(Xinhua) 08:56, September 18, 2021

NEW YORK, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Wall Street declined for the week as investors turned cautious amid a rapid spread of the Delta coronavirus variant and a slew of mixed economic data.

For the week ending Friday, the Dow lost 0.1 percent, while the S&P 500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite fell 0.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

The S&P U.S. Listed China 50 index, which is designed to track the performance of the 50 largest Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges by total market cap, logged a weekly decrease of 3.9 percent.

The above market reactions came as the pandemic continued in the United States, with the Delta variant in a sustained uptrend and hospitalizations on the rise.

More than 42 million COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States with over 673,000 related fatalities as of Saturday afternoon, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The average daily increase of cases in the country was over 142,700 in the seven-day period ending Thursday, showed the latest statistics compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pandemic worries continued to grip investors as they were concerned that the spread of the Delta variant could stall an economic recovery, experts noted.

Meanwhile, a slew of latest economic data painted a mixed picture.

A key inflation reading showed that U.S. price pressures were tamer than expected last month.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday that the country's consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.3 percent in August for a 5.3-percent year-over-year gain, slightly below the 0.4-percent monthly consensus, but in line with the year-over-year consensus.

The core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose 0.1 percent in August for a 4.0-percent year-over-year increase, showed the report.

"There was cooling in price pressures in re-opening sectors like transportation and hotels that have been pushing up CPI the last few months, likely because demand weakened with the spread of the Delta variant," Chris Low and Will Compernolle, economists at FHN Financial, said Tuesday in a note.

"In fact, the same Delta variant causing prices to drop now will likely lead to price acceleration later, as global supply chains choke up again," they said, adding, "supply chain issues and labor shortages will keep price pressures in play throughout this year."

Inflation has been a focus on Wall Street in recent months, and it is also among the key economic indicators monitored by the U.S. Federal Reserve when deciding monetary policy.

Elsewhere, U.S. Department of Commerce reported on Thursday that U.S. retail sales climbed a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent in August, following a 1.8 percent decline in July. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.7 percent drop.

Yet, initial jobless claims in the United States ticked up to 332,000 last week, indicating a disrupted labor market recovery amid the Delta variant surge, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday.

In the week ending Sept. 11, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits increased by 20,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised level of 312,000, according to a report released by the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The University of Michigan reported on Friday that its gauge of consumer sentiment rebounded slightly to a preliminary September reading of 71 from a final August reading of 70.3, remaining close to a decade lows. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expected a reading of 72.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to hold its two-day policy meeting next week and Wall Street will look to its policy update.

(Web editor: Xia Peiyao, Bianji)


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