Stocks moved mostly lower during trading on Tuesday, extending the pullback seen during last Friday’s session. The Nasdaq showed a notable move to the downside amid weakness among tech stocks.

The major averages ended the day in negative territory but off their lows of the session. The Nasdaq (NASDAQI:COMP) slumped 144.87 points or 0.9 percent to 15,630.78, the S&P 500 (SPI:SP500) fell 30.06 points or 0.6 percent to 4,975.51 and the Dow (DOWI:DJI) dipped 64.19 points or 0.2 percent to 38,563.80.

The weakness on Wall Street partly reflected ongoing anxiety about the outlook for interest rates following last week’s hotter-than-expectation inflation data.

CME Group’s FedWatch Tool is indicating just an 8.5 percent chance the Federal Reserve will lower rates by a quarter point in March, while the chances of a quarter point rate cut in early May have fallen to 33.8 percent.

The Fed may provide additional insight into the outlook for interest rates with the release of the minutes of its latest monetary policy meeting on Wednesday.

“The minutes of the Federal Reserve’s January Federal Open Market Committee meeting may clarify how much more ‘good data’ the Fed’s policymakers want to see before starting to reduce interest rates,” said Bill Adams, Chief Economist for Comerica Bank.

He added, “Chair Powell said at the press conference following the January decision that he saw a March cut as unlikely, but was uncharacteristically vague about exactly what the Fed’s preconditions for cuts are; this suggests FOMC members still disagree about the issue.”

Meanwhile, a strong gain by Walmart (NYSE:WMT) helped limit the downside for the Dow, with the retail giant surging by 3.2 percent after reporting fourth quarter results that exceeded estimates and announcing a deal to acquire TV maker Vizio (NYSE:VZIO) for $2.3 billion.

Sector News

Steel stocks showed a significant move to the downside, with the NYSE Arca Steel Index tumbling by 1.9 percent after ending last Friday’s trading at its best closing level in well over a month.

Significant weakness was also visible among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 1.6 percent loss posted by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index.

Shares of Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) plunged by 4.4 percent ahead of the release of the chipmaker’s quarterly results after the close of trading on Wednesday.

Tobacco, oil producer and transportation stocks also saw notable weakness, moving lower along with most of the other major sectors.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Tuesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.3 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index climbed by 0.4 percent.

The major European markets also finished the day mixed. While the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the German DAX Index both edged down by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries moved modestly back to the upside after coming under pressure last Friday. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, dipped 2.0 basis points to 4.725 percent.

Looking Ahead

Trading activity on Wednesday may be somewhat subdued head of the release of the Fed minutes later in the afternoon.


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