(Reuters) - Wall Street struggled for direction on Friday as inflation jitters and sagging technology and energy stocks offset an advance in the consumer discretionary sector led by Amazon.
Data showed that the U.S. economy slowed in the first quarter as consumer spending grew at its weakest pace in nearly five years. But a surge in wages in a tightening labor market and lower tax rates suggested the setback could be temporary.
“To me the biggest impact of inflation on equities is wage inflation. And that’s the real bogie when it comes to inflation,” said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana.
The U.S. Treasuries yield curve flattened as the GDP data renewed bets that the Federal Reserve would continue hiking rates to keep inflation in check.
Wages and salaries increased at their fastest pace in 11 years, according to a report from the Labor Department, adding to inflation jitters.
As companies warn of higher costs eroding margins, markets have fluctuated as investors focus on guidance in the strongest quarter of profit growth in seven years.
“I think that most people thought the bottom line, the net income line was going to get a nice boost from tax reform; that has happened,” Carlson said. “But you’re talking about a quarter that’s already happened. And markets move in terms of what’s going to happen.”
At 3:37PM ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 24.11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 24,298.23, the S&P 500 gained 2.32 points, or 0.09 percent, to 2,669.26 and the Nasdaq Composite added 2.09 points, or 0.03 percent, to 7,120.77.
With more than half of the S&P 500 companies having reported first-quarter earnings already, 79.4 percent have beat consensus estimates. Analysts now expect first-quarter earnings