Menu Close

Dow Slips With Central Bank Policy in Focus, GameStop Pops—and What Else Is Happening in the Stock Market Today

Central bank policy is top of mind for Wall Street.

Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The stock market was trying to keep recent gains alive Thursday, following more hawkish comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and an interest rate hike from the European Central Bank.

In afternoon trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 44 points, or 0.1%, while the S&P 500 has gained 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite has slipped 0.1%. The indexes have been bouncing between gains and losses.

That comes after a gain on Wednesday, which saw all three major indexes rise more than 1% each. The stock market was pleased to see bond yields back down from their recent multi-year highs, which are still reflecting an increased probability that the Fed will lift the benchmark lending rate by three-quarters of a percent this month, rather than a half a percent. The central bank is prioritizing the fight against inflation over economic growth. 

Central banks are in focus, with the European Central Bank raising interest rates for a second consecutive meeting. The ECB matched the Fed’s latest hike, lifting rates by three-quarters of a percentage point to combat high inflation.

That moved the 2-year German bund yield up to 1.35%. That often causes U.S. government bond yields to rise. U.S. yields have long been higher than those in Europe, so when European yields rise, U.S. yields become slightly less attractive. That drives money out of U.S. bonds, forcing their prices down—and yields up. The U.S. 2-year yield is up to 3.49%.

“Today’s rate hike underscores the battle for global central banks in their campaign to extinguish inflation,” wrote Quincy Krosby, chief global economist at LPL Financial. 

Importantly, the 2-year yield remains below its multi-year high. 

Markets were also sifting through words from Powell, who spoke this morning at the Cato Institute. Powell struck a rather hawkish tone, saying that the Fed should not take its eye off of lowering inflation too soon.

The real test for stocks comes on September 13. That’s when the August consumer price index comes out. Markets want to see that the rate of inflation continues to decline, as it did in July, gaining 8.5% year over year. If inflation keeps declining, markets will bet that the Fed will ease up on rate hikes soon. 

Already, the price of oil has taken a hit. WTI crude oil, up a tick Thursday, is below $84 a barrel. That’s down 7% for the month of September. 

“All eyes will be on important inflation data releases next week before the Fed’s monetary policy decision on 21st September,” wrote Marilyn Watson, head of global fundamental fixed income strategy at BlackRock. 

Here are some stocks on the move Thursday:

GameStop (ticker: GME) popped 4.5% after the videogame retailer and retail investor-favorite reported a narrower-than-expected adjusted loss in its second fiscal quarter. GameStop reported an adjusted loss of 35 cents a share, less than the 42 cents a share loss eyeballed by analysts. But sales of $1.14 billion came in below Wall Street’s expectations of $1.27 billion.

Asana (ASAN) gained 25% after the work-management platform hiked its full-year revenue forecast to a range of $544 million to $547 million, above the $540 million upper bound of its previous guidance range. The stock was also lifted as CEO Dustin Moskovitz purchased $350 million worth of shares in a private placement.

American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) slumped 10% after the clothing retailer’s latest quarterly results revealed revenue in line with estimates but profit short of what analysts had been expecting. The company also suspended its quarterly dividend and detailed difficult demand trends in the current quarter.

Globalstar (GSAT) was down 9.2%. The company is the satellite operator for Apple ’s (AAPL) new emergency satellite messaging services for the iPhone 14, revealed Wednesday.

Moderna (MRNA) stock gained 4% after getting upgraded to Buy from Hold at Deutsche Bank. 

Write to Jack Denton at jack.denton@dowjones.com and Jacob Sonenshine at jacob.sonenshine@barrons.com