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Dow advances more than 100 points in Friday rebound but heads for 8th straight losing week

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U.S. stock futures bounced early on Friday cutting into losses from earlier in the week that have sent the S&P 500 to the cusp of a bear market and the Dow Jones Jones Industrial Average on pace for its eighth negative week in a row.

Futures tied to the Dow bounced 272 points, or 0.9%. S&P 500 futures traded about 1.1% higher, while Nasdaq 100 futures gained 1.5%.

Futures may have gotten a boost after China overnight cut a key benchmark rate for mortgages as Covid shutdowns hit the economy. Rate increases from the Federal Reserve and central banks around the world to fight inflation have been the main culprit behind the two-month stock market slide. China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.6% following the move.

The rebound comes after another downbeat day on Wall Street Thursday. The Dow and Nasdaq dipped 0.8% and 0.3%, respectively. For the week, the Dow is off by 2.9% for what would be its first 8-week losing streak since 1932 as relentless selling has taken over Wall Street the last two months.

“Markets have had a really rough stretch for the last seven weeks, and I think a lot of it has to do with concerns over inflation, and what that will mean to profit margins and how aggressive the Fed will have to be to get that under control,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities. “While that’s nothing new, that story continues to be the number one headwind.”

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The S&P 500 fell 0.6% on Thursday and is now about 19% below a record closing high set in early January. This would be the first bear market — defined by many on Wall Street as a 20% drop from a high — since the pandemic decline of March 2020.

The Nasdaq and S&P 500 are on pace to fall for a seventh-straight week. Stocks have been under pressure this week as the latest quarterly figures from big box retailers such as Walmart and Target raise concerns about a weakening consumer base and the ability for companies to deal with decades-high inflation. Target and Walmart are down sharply after posting their quarterly results this week.

“While many cross-currents are causing the current sell-off, the proximate cause of the recent acceleration in the stock declines revolves around fears about the U.S. consumer,” Glenview Trust CIO Bill Stone wrote. “For the first time in the post-Covid period, retailers have been stuck with some excess inventories. Costs due to inflation are also taking their toll on their earnings.”

“Lastly, there is evidence that the lower-end consumer is feeling the pinch from the increase in prices,” Stone said.

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Ross Stores was the latest retailer to fall after posting earnings. The stock was down more than 28% in premarket trading. CEO Barbara Rentler said that “following a stronger-than-planned start early in the period, sales underperformed over the balance of the quarter.”

Elsewhere, shares of Deere also fell 5% in premarket trading after the heavy equipment maker reported a revenue miss. However, the company beat on earnings estimates and raised its annual profit outlook.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has signaled it will continue to raise interest rates as it tries to temper the recent inflationary surge. Earlier in the week, Chair Jerome Powell said: “If that involves moving past broadly understood levels of neutral, we won’t hesitate to do that.”

That tough stance on monetary policy has stoked concern this week that the Fed’s actions could tip the economy into a recession. On Thursday, Deutsche Bank said the S&P 500 could fall to 3,000 if there is an imminent recession. That’s 23% below Thursday’s close.

Stocks have struggled to find their footing for roughly two months. The Nasdaq is 27% below its record and the Dow is off by 14% from its high.

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