Stock futures mixed after strong retail sales, Walmart and Home Depot earnings

Stocks gained on Tuesday, with traders digesting key new economic data on the state of the consumer after a couple of major retailers topped quarterly earnings results. 

New monthly retail sales data from the Commerce Department showed better-than-expected consumer spending trends heading into the holiday season. The total value of U.S. retail sales rose by 1.7{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} in October compared to September, topping expectations for a 1.4{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} rise, according to Bloomberg consensus data. The print was closely watched as an indicator of overall economic strength, given consumption comprises about two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.

Earnings results from retail juggernaut Walmart (WMT) further underscored solid shopping trends among American consumers. The company’s closely watched U.S. comparable same-store sales grew 9.2{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} over last year in the third quarter, and by 15.6{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} compared to the same period in 2019, to exceed estimates for growth of 7{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}, according to Bloomberg consensus data. E-commerce sales also held up and grew by a better-than-expected 8{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}, compared to the 1.9{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} rise expected, even as more consumers returned to in-person shopping. 

Home Depot (HD), meanwhile, also posted better-than-expected sales and earnings results as the company continued to see “elevated home improvement demand,” CEO Craig Menear said in Home Depot’s earnings statement. Comparable sales grew 6.1{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} compared to the 1.5{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} rise anticipated.

These reports came at the tail end of what has already been an exceptionally strong earnings season. As of Friday, 92{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} of S&P 500 companies had reported actual results, and of these, 81{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} of them had reported better-than-expected earnings results, according to FactSet.

The slew of better-than-expected corporate profits, coupled with still-accommodative monetary policy support, have helped power stocks to record highs throughout the year, and pushed the S&P 500 up by nearly 25{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} so far in 2021. These factors have also helped investors continue to push through concerns over persistently elevated inflation — though the stickiness of these rising prices remains a closely watched risk for investors. 

“We have a stock market that’s been on an absolute tear despite high inflation,” Michael Darda, MKM Partners chief economist, told Yahoo Finance Live. “That’s not aways been the case historically but it has this time around, and I think for a set of very specific reasons.”

“One is that market interest rates are still extremely low on a historical basis, even though they’re up year-to-date from where they were in January,” he said. “Liquidity levels are high and companies have a lot of pricing power, so profits have been very strong despite those high inflation readings. That doesn’t necessarily mean the market is going to continue to soar on a go-forward basis. I think it’s really going to come down to the future path of market interest rates and how the Fed maneuvers moving forward, because they will be moving into a tightening cycle probably before many forecasters assumed that they would.”

4:06 p.m. ET: Stocks end higher after retail sales, earnings top estimates: Nasdaq outperforms to gain 0.8{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}

Here were the main moves in markets as of 4:06 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +18.10 (+0.39{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to 4,700.90

  • Dow (^DJI): +54.77 (+0.15{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to 36,142.22

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +120.01 (+0.76{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to 15,973.86

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.10 (-0.12{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to $80.78 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$15.40 (-0.83{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to $1,851.20 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +1.1 bps to yield 1.6340{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}

12:39 p.m. ET: Rivian shares rally for a fifth straight day after IPO 

Rivian’s stock was on track to post a fifth straight day of gains after its upsized initial public offering last week, with investor appetite for the Amazon-backed electric-vehicle startup showing no signs of slowing down.

Shares traded for as much as $169.70 apiece Tuesday afternoon, or nearly 120{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} above their IPO price of $78. This also sent the company’s market capitalization above that of established automaker Volkswagen, the largest car-maker in Europe. 

According to Bloomberg data, the extended rally gave Rivian the title of this year’s best performer in the week following an IPO of at least $1 billion. The title was previously held by financial technology company Affirm Holdings, which advanced by 117{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} in its first five sessions. 

10:15 a.m. ET: U.S. manufacturing production reached highest level since March 2019 despite supply chain disruptions

U.S. manufacturing production surged by 1.2{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} to reach its highest level since early 2019 in October as the goods-producing sector rebounded from impacts related to Hurricane Ida in late summer. 

The increase, which was posted in a monthly report from the Federal Reserve, was biggest than the 0.9{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} rise expected, and marked a recovery from September’s 0.7{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} drop in manufacturing production. 

Industrial production, a broader measure that includes output at mine sand utilities, was also up by a greater than expected 1.6{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} in October, or nearly double the 0.9{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} rise anticipated for the month. 

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open mixed

Here’s where markets were trading shortly after the opening bell:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +0.17 points (+0.00{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to 4,682.97

  • Dow (^DJI): +62.20 (+0.17{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to 36,149.65

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -23.9 (-0.15{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to 15,829.95

  • Crude (CL=F): -$0.21 (-0.26{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to $80.67 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$3.80 (-0.2{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to $1,862.80 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.6 bps to yield 1.627{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}

9:20 a.m. ET: Import prices jump in October, adding to inflationary signals

Import prices rose by a greater-than-expected margin in October compared to September, suggesting inflationary pressures were still rippling through the economy. 

The Commerce Department reported Tuesday that import prices rose 1.2{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} on a monthly basis in October, coming in well above the 0.4{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} rise for September. This was also above the 1.0{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} increase consensus economists expected for October, according to Bloomberg data.

Energy prices were a major contributor to the headline number, with petroleum costs rising by 8.1{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} during the month. Excluding petroleum, however, the index of import prices still rose 0.5{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} during the month, or more than double September’s 0.2{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} increase. 

8:39 a.m. ET: Retail sales exceed estimates, rising by 1.7{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} vs. 1.4{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} estimate

U.S. retail sales exceeded expectations in October and rose for a third straight month, showing the U.S. consumer was already spending at a strong clip heading into the holiday shopping season.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that retail sales grew by 1.7{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} month-on-month in October, topping estimates for 1.4{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}, according to Bloomberg consensus data. In September, retail sales had risen by 0.8{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}, with this figure upwardly revised from the 0.7{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} uptick previously reported.

So-called “non-store retailers” posted the largest percent increase in sales in October. This category, which captures e-commerce sales, saw a 4.0{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} monthly rise in sales. This was followed by gasoline station sales with a rise of 3.9{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} and electronics and appliance stores with a gain of 3.8{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}. 

Some of the categories associated with the reopening saw sales momentum slow, however. Food service and drinking places sales were flat during the month, and clothing and clothing accessory store sales turned negative to drop by 0.7{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}. 

7:25 a.m. ET Tuesday: Stock futures rise ahead of retail sales, and as Walmart and Home Depot top estimates

Here’s where markets were trading ahead of the opening bell: 

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +3 points (+0.06{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}), to 4,682.00

  • Dow futures (YM=F): +64 points (+0.18{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}), to 36,073.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +9.5 points (+0.06{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to 16,197.25

  • Crude (CL=F): +$0.39 (+0.48{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to $81.27 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): +$8.50 (+0.46{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to $1,875.10 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -0.1 bps to yield 1.611{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}

6:15 p.m. ET Monday: Stock futures edge higher as the overnight session kicks off

Here’s where markets were trading Monday evening:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +1.75 points (+0.04{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}), to 4,680.75

  • Dow futures (YM=F): +16 points (+0.04{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}), to 36,025.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +6.5 points (+0.04{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a}) to 16,194.25

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., October 12, 2021.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., October 12, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter

Christopher Lewis

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