Stock Market Today: Wall Street Rallies Around Reassuring Retail Data

The stock market enjoyed a broad rebound Tuesday as fresh economic data suggested the US consumer is still shopping strong.

The US Census Bureau said today that April retail sales improved by 0.9% over March. Though that was slightly less than the 1.0% expected, there was a show of strength in the significant upward revision to March’s numbers, to 1.4% growth from 0.5% originally.

“To the extent that markets are worried about a growth slowdown, this is good news, but it is also a further catalyst for the Fed to raise rates even higher to get inflation under control,” says Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for registered investment advisor Independent Advisor Alliance.

While Zaccarelli joins other names in believing a recession is unlikely in 2022, “the Fed is going to need to raise interest rates to a point where they are likely to cause a recession in 2023 or 2024, and that gives us cause for concern,” he says.

Despite the promising retail data, success in retail stocks wasn’t a gimme.

Walmart (WMT, -11.4%) plunged after delivering a mixed quarterly report. Revenues improved 2.4% year-over-year to $ 141.6 billion to easily top expectations, and Walmart lifted its full-year sales outlook. However, that windfall is coming from cost-conscious consumers flocking to its grocery aisle, which has lower margins than its other offerings. This, as well as supply-chain problems and other headwinds, caused Walmart to report profits of $ 1.30 per share that were well short of estimates, and to lower its income forecast for 2022.

Home Depot (HD, + 1.7%) fared better, however, after delivering record fiscal first-quarter sales and upgrading its full-year outlook.

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“Walmart’s report this week basically confirmed all the negative scenarios that you would expect given inflationary pressures and rising interest rates,” says David Keller, chief market strategist at StockCharts.com. But he added that “Home Depot’s report had a much more encouraging tone as consumers fueled a strong earnings win for the company.”

Other pockets of strength Tuesday included airline stocks such as American Airlines (AAL, + 7.7%) and Delta Air Lines (DAL, + 6.7%), which were boosted by United Airlines’ (UAL, + 7.9%) higher second-quarter revenue outlook. Semiconductor stocks including Micron Technology (MU, + 5.7%) and Qualcomm (QCOM, + 4.3%) also rallied around Piper Sandler’s upgrade of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD, + 8.7%).

The Nasdaq Composite was tops among the major indexes Tuesday, up 2.8% to 11,984. The S&P 500 delivered a 2.0% gain to 4,088, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average improved 1.3% to 32,654.

stock chart for 051722

Other news in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 surged 3.2% to 1.840.
  • US crude oil futures slumped 1.6% to $ 112.40 per barrel.
  • A retreat in the US dollar helped gold futures tick 0.3% higher to $ 1,818.90 per ounce.
  • Bitcoin improved by 1.7% to $ 30,058.48. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 pm)
  • Twitter (TWTR, + 2.5%) made some gains despite a potential deal with Tesla (TSLA, + 5.1%) CEO Elon Musk looking increasingly unlikely. Musk insisted today that he would back out of his $ 44 billion bid to buy the social platform unless Twitter proved that fewer than 5% of its users are bots. He tweeted that “20% fake / spam accounts, while 4 times what Twitter claims, could be * much * higher” without providing proof. Numerous analysts have now said they believe Musk’s sudden interest in Twitter’s bot numbers is either an attempt to escape his deal, or lower the $ 54.20-per-share price tag.

Buffett’s Latest Buys Are In!

A number of other stocks were driven higher Tuesday by their newfound inclusion into a prestigious order: the equity portfolio of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Berkshire filed its quarterly Form 13F with the SEC yesterday afternoon, revealing that after more than a year of heavy selling, Warren Buffett was finally eager to buy. Paramount Global (PARA, + 15.4%) and Celanese (CE, + 7.5%) were just two of the eight new positions Berkshire entered during the first quarter, and among the top beneficiaries of earning Buffett’s seal of approval.

We recently mentioned that inflation has been a major driver of many of Buffett’s purchases of the past few months, but it’s not the only story.

Read on as we explore each and every one of Buffett’s 22 moves from the first quarter of 2022, including what likely drew the Oracle of Omaha (or his lieutenants) to the position.

Kyle Woodley was long AMD as of this writing.

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