Stocks fall after Walmart issues profit warning, says inflation hit consumer spending

U.S. equities fell on Tuesday morning after Walmart cut its profit forecast, sending retail stocks tumbling.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 87 points, or 0.3%. The S&P 500 lost 0.4% and the Nasdaq Composite declined 0.8%.

A late Monday announcement from Walmart, which cut its quarterly and full-year profit estimates because of rising food inflation, alarmed investors who deliberated the implications for other retail stocks. The big-box retailer said higher prices are spurring consumers to pull back on general merchandise spending, particularly in apparel.

Walmart plunged 8% Tuesday and dragged other retailers with it. Target and Kohl’s each dropped about 5%, while Amazon and Dollar General each fell 4%. Costco shed 3%.

“Clearly, they have the wrong stuff, and they have to sell it more aggressively to clear that out, which looks like it’s going to take a pretty dramatic hit as a result of that,” Jeremy Bryan, senior portfolio manager at Gradient Investments, said during CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime.”

“The question is, how does this relate to the rest of the discretionary space?” Bryan added.

Elsewhere, General Motors fell 3.6% after the company missed earnings estimates, citing supply chain disruptions stemming from Russia’s war on Ukraine and global Covid lockdowns.

UPS shares fell 1.8%, despite the company posting earnings and revenue beats for the second quarter, after the shipping giant reported declines in its international and supply chain businesses.

On the flip side, Coca-Cola shares rose 1.3% after the beverage giant topped earnings and revenue expectations, citing a sales volume recovery from the pandemic and higher pricing.

Shares of McDonald’s eked out a modest gain following mixed second-quarter results, in which net sales were hurt in part by the closure of locations in Russia and Ukraine, but international growth elsewhere fueled a rise same-store sales.

Industrial stocks gave a positive showing too. Shares of 3M rose 3.7% after beating earnings and revenue estimates and announcing plans to spin its health care business into a separate publicly traded company. General Electric posted better-than-expected results citing recovery in the aviation industry that boosted its jet engine business. Its shares gained almost 5%.

Traders are also bracing for an onslaught of mega-cap tech earnings and economic data this week, as well as the outcome of the Federal Reserve meeting, that will help Wall Street direct its expectations for the rest of the year.

“I think that there’s going to be a bifurcated market,” VantageRock Capital’s Avery Sheffield said during CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime.” “I think the bottom might be in certain stocks, but nowhere in others. So this actually could be one of the most dynamic earnings seasons we’ve seen in a long time.”

Stocks traded in a narrow range during Monday’s session, with the S&P 500 adding 0.1%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 90.75 points, or 0.3%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lagged, sliding 0.4%. All of the major averages are on track for their best month of the year.

On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve will commence its two-day policy meeting. Traders are widely expecting a three-quarter percentage point hike and will be looking for clues on the future interest rate path and what it could mean for equity market pricing.

“We expect the Fed will signal that they are still following the data and leave the door open for at least one more 75 bps increase – if not multiple 75 bps rate increases – and market interest rate expectations will become less sanguine about the Fed pausing rate hikes any time soon,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.

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