By Herbert Lash and Bansari Mayur Kamdar
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Nasdaq closed down on Tuesday after a dismal forecast from Micron Technology pulled chip makers and tech stocks lower as investors await U.S. inflation data that could lead the Federal Reserve to further tighten its efforts to curb inflation.
High inflation numbers on Wednesday, following last week’s blowout jobs report, would likely stop the Fed from easing interest rates hikes anytime soon and halt the market’s rally off mid-June lows.
Traders see a 68.5% chance of the Fed raising rates by 75 basis points in September, in what would be its third big hike in a row.
Adding to concerns of a tight labor market and runaway inflation, data on Tuesday showed an acceleration of unit labor costs in the second quarter, which suggested strong wage pressures will help keep inflation elevated.
Unit labor costs – the price of labor per single unit of output – rose at a 10.8% rate, following a 12.7% rate of growth in the first quarter, the Labor Department said.
“We’re still seeing wage pressure building, using last Friday’s job data as a gauge,” said Jimmy Chang, chief investment officer at Rockefeller Global Family Office.
Chang remains cautious about the market’s outlook. “I don’t think it’s going to be a set of numbers that will change the Fed’s policy course,” he said.
Inflation at the moment is primarily supply driven, so the traditional central bank playbook of tightening rates to crimp demand will not be as effective as previous cycles, said Jean Boivin, head of the BlackRock Investment Institute.
“We’re going to see central banks being surprised by inflation. They will have to sound hawkish on the back of this,” Boivin told the Reuters Global Markets Forum.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 58.13 points, or 0.18%, to 32,774.41, while the S&P 500 lost 17.59 points, or 0.42%, to 4,122.47 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 150.53 points, or 1.19%, to 12,493.93.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.64 billion shares, compared with the 10.94 billion average for the full session over the past 20 trading days.
Seven of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors fell, led by a 1.5%decline in consumer discretionary. Value stocks closed flat, while the growth index slid 0.8%.
The jobs data from last Friday eroded some of the bullish arguments that the Fed would “pivot” to a neutral policy stance, followed by rate cuts early next year, Chang said.
“You have some strategists and technicians capitulating, saying the bottom is behind us, this is a new bull market now,” he said. “Typically in a bear market, a summer rally is not unusual.”
Micron Technology Inc slid 3.7% after the memory-chipmaker …….