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Walmart, Home Depot fall as FY profit forecast disappoints
Meta Platforms rises as Facebook tests subscription service
Futures down: Dow 0.84%, S&P 0.72%, Nasdaq 0.95%
(Adds Walmart results, Lowe’s share reaction)
By Johann M Cherian
Feb 21 (Reuters) – Wall Street’s main stock indexes were set to open lower on Tuesday as retailers Walmart and Home Depot delivered a double blow to traders returning after a long weekend amid worries that interest rates will remain higher for longer.
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, shed 3.7% in premarket trading as it forecast full-year earnings below estimates and said consumers were likely to continue shopping for lower-priced items that could pressure its margins.
“Walmart is a bellweather for how the consumer is doing and the fact is that they envision that the consumer may be getting to that point of having to pull back,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B Riley Wealth.
Home Depot dropped 4.0% as the home improvement chain forecast annual profit below estimates due to higher supply-chain costs and weak demand.
Smaller rival Lowe’s Cos Inc, which is expected to post results next week, was down 2.9%.
The U.S. stock market got a lift this year from its worst annual showing in more than a decade in 2022, as investors were hopeful that the central bank’s rate hiking cycle was nearing its end.
However, recent economic data has pointed to a resilient economy with inflation far from the Fed’s 2% target, raising bets for two or three more 25 basis point hikes amid dwindling hopes of rate cuts at year-end.
Money market participants see the benchmark level peaking to a 5.3% in July, and staying near those levels throughout the year.
At 7:54 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were down 285 points, or 0.84%, S&P 500 e-minis were down 29.5 points, or 0.72%, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 117.25 points, or 0.95%.
Yield on the U.S. benchmark 10-year Treasury note edged higher, in turn pressuring rate-sensitive growth stocks.
Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Google-parent Alphabet Inc fell between 1% and 1.5%.
Traders find government bonds as a safe alternative to investments in riskier assets like megacap firms.
In a bright spot, Meta Platforms Inc added 1.4% after the Facebook parent said it is testing a monthly subscription service called Meta Verified, which will let users verify their accounts using a government ID and get a blue badge.
Traders are awaiting business activity data for February at 9:45 a.m. ET. The S&P Global Flash U.S. Composite Output Index is expected to rise to 47.5 as per a Reuters poll from a 46.8 in the previous month. (Reporting by Johann M Cherian and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)