March 22, 2023

Tricia Oak

Business & Finance Excellency

Stocks slide to cap worst week since September

Stocks slid into the close Friday, capping a challenging week for investors that saw the S&P 500 decline in four of five trading sessions.

When the closing bell rang on Wall Street, all three major indexes were lower, with the S&P 500 off 0.7%, the Dow off 0.9%, and the Nasdaq down 0.7%.

For the week, the S&P 500 dropped 3.4% while the Dow fell 2.8%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 4%.

This week’s declines in the S&P 500 and the Dow were their worst since late September.

Friday’s trading session saw stocks spend time on both sides of the flatline, with data on producer prices out Friday morning sending futures tumbling before a more positive read on consumer sentiment buoyed markets in mid-morning trade.

The November read on producer prices showed prices rising 0.3% over the prior month on a headline basis and 0.4% on a “core” basis, which excludes food and energy. Economists had expected increases of 0.2% for each reading, respectively. Compared to the prior year, producer prices rose 7.4%.

After the October read on consumer prices showed some inflation pressures easing, Friday’s data suggests wholesale prices remain on the rise and points to inflation remaining firmer in the coming months than investors had previously believed. The next read on consumer prices is due out Tuesday morning.

Still, economists don’t see this data changing the outlook for the Fed next week.

“While headline PPI advanced faster than expected in November, monthly increases are down sharply from a year ago, allowing annual inflation to cool for the fifth consecutive month. The reading is unlikely to figure significantly into the Fed’s decision next week, when we expect a 50bps rate hike,” said Matthew Martin, U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

Elsewhere on the economic data calendar, investors were greeted by a stronger-than-expected gauge on consumer sentiment, with the University of Michigan’s first look at sentiment in December coming at 59.1, better than the 56.8 expected and 57 reported at the end of last month.

“Gains in the sentiment index were seen across multiple demographic groups, with particularly large increases for higher-income families and those with larger stock holdings, supported by recent rises in financial markets,” said Joanne Hsu, director for the survey of consumers.

Oil prices also continue to be a focus for investors, with WTI crude oil on Friday settling at $71.40, a new low for 2022.

Stocks making big moves on Friday included lululemon (LULU), with shares of the athletic apparel retailer falling more than 12% after the company offered guidance for the current quarter that came in below estimates. Still, the company said full-year sales would be ahead of its prior forecast.

A Lululemon sign is seen at a shopping mall in San Diego, California, U.S., November, 23, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Shares of Docusign (DOCU) rose more than 12% on Friday after the company reported late Thursday results that were better than expected.

DocuSign was one of the biggest winners during the pandemic-induced market rally; shares were down more than 70% so far this year before Thursday’s quarterly results.

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