The major domestic equity indexes were lower at the closing bell on Wednesday. The S&P 500 index chalked up a fifth straight day of losses as financial stocks were hit by fears that regulations on the banking industry would tighten with the Democratic Party taking control of the House of Representatives.
For example, Democrat Maxine Waters, who is expected to become chair of the House Financial Services Committee, made clear that she intends to push for stricter rules on the sector.
Waters said she was concerned by the Federal Reserve’s efforts to reduce capital and liquidity requirements for banks and wants the central bank to vigorously supervise large banks.
The financial sector index closed out the trading day down 1.4 percent and was the largest percentage decliner on the S&P 500. The S&P 500 bank index fell 1.7 percent.
There was some paring of losses after British Prime Minister Theresa May won the backing of her senior ministers on a draft agreement for exiting the European Union, although the indexes resumed their descent during the last half-hour of trading.
Technology stocks also extended recent losses as shares of Apple fell for a fifth consecutive day as a result of mounting concerns that iPhone sales may stagnate. At their session low, Apple shares were down more than 20 percent from their record high.
Apple’s 2.8 percent share price decline helped drag the S&P 500 technology index down 1.3 percent.
The market had started on a buoyant note as oil prices rebounded, and data indicated consumer prices rose only as much as expected last month, easing fears of overheating inflation and a faster pace of interest rate hikes.
However, sentiment turned lower by midday, due to ongoing concerns over a possible slowdown in global economic growth.
PG&E fell 21.8 percent after the utility warned it could face “significant liability” in excess of its insurance coverage if its equipment was found to have caused the blaze raging in Northern California.
Approximately 8.96 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 8.53 billion share average chalked up over the past 20 trading days.
Consumer Prices Rise
Consumer prices increased by the most in nine months during October amid gains in the cost of gasoline and rents, pointing to steadily rising inflation that will in all probability likely keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates again next month.
The Labor Department indicated on Wednesday that its Consumer Price Index rose 0.3 percent last month after edging up 0.1 percent in September. In the 12 months through October, the CPI increased 2.5 percent, picking up from September’s 2.3 percent rise.
Excluding the volatile food and energy components, the CPI climbed 0.2 percent. The so-called core CPI had gained 0.1 percent for two straight months.
In the 12 months through October, the core CPI increased 2.1 percent after advancing 2.2 percent in September.
Inflation pressures are building, driven in part by the lowest unemployment rate in nearly 49 years and strong domestic demand. Annual wage growth recorded its largest increase in 9-1/2 years during October.
The Fed, which has a 2 percent inflation target, tracks a different measure, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding food and energy, for monetary policy. The core PCE price index has increased 2.0 percent for five straight months.
The Fed is expected to increase rates in December for a fourth time this year. In its statement after last week’s policy meeting, it noted that annual inflation measures “remain near 2 percent.”
Last month, gasoline prices rebounded 3.0 percent, accounting for more than one-third of the increase in the CPI, after slipping 0.2 percent in September.
Food prices fell 0.1 percent after being unchanged in September. Food consumed at home declined for a second straight month in October. Food prices were held down by cheaper bread, cereals, pork, dairy products, fruits and vegetables.
Owners’ equivalent rent of primary residence, which is what a homeowner would pay to rent or receive from renting a home, rose 0.3 percent in October after advancing 0.2 percent in the prior month. The rent index gained 0.2 percent.
Healthcare costs increased 0.2 percent last month after a similar gain in September. Apparel prices edged up 0.1 percent after rising 0.9 percent in September.
There were also increases in the costs of household furnishings and used motor vehicle and trucks as well as motor vehicle insurance and tobacco.
However, prices for new motor vehicles fell 0.2 percent last month. Communications costs were lower as were prices for recreation and personal care products.