Stocks rise slightly as investors assess Target's profit warning

Stocks rise slightly as investors assess Target's profit warning

Stocks dipped on Tuesday after Target issued a warning about its current quarter’s profits, which caused an early sell-off for retailers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 20 points, or less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite ticked up 0.2%. The indexes opened solidly lower but trimmed those losses as the day progressed.

The mild gains came despite another concerning corporate update from the retail sector.

Target shares fell about 3.6% after the retailer announced plans to work down excess inventory, though the stock trimmed its losses as the session progressed. The company said it will implement additional markdowns to products and cancel some orders. Target also lowered its operating margins guidance for the quarter. Walmart shares followed Target lower, sliding 2%.

Major retailers have delivered mixed results and outlooks in recent weeks, adding to stock market volatility as investors try to determine if the announcements signal the start of a potential recession or a rapid change in consumer spending that caught some companies off guard on the inventory side.

“I hear shifting spending, not stopping spending. So if you think about the past few years, you have had a move toward goods spending over services spending. That is now unwinding as we push further from the impact that Covid had on us,” Brent Schutte from Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management said on “Squawk on the Street.”

Still, the potential for a recession presents a downside risk for the stock, according to Chris Senyek of Wolfe Research.

“Overall positioning appears to be skewed only modestly toward defense. Our sense is that the shift toward non-cyclicals and high quality will accelerate as recession odds increase in the months ahead. That said, with many investors apparently trying to time recession, U.S. equity markets are likely to remain prone to big upside and downside rips,” Senyek said in a note to clients on Tuesday.

Energy was one of top performing sectors on Tuesday as oil futures hovered near $120 per barrel. Exxon jumped more than 3% following an upgrade from Evercore ISI, putting the stock above $100 per share for the first time since 2014. Phillips 66 and Chevron gained 2.2% and 1.5%, respectively.

Shares of Apple rose more than 1%, leading Big Tech stocks. In deal news, Kohl’s jumped nearly 9% after the retailer said it was in exclusive negotiations with Franchise Group about a potential takeover.

All three of the major averages finished slightly higher Monday, but gave back most of their gains from earlier in the day as the 10-year Treasury yield spiked up to 3% and hit its highest level in nearly a month. The 10-year yield fell back below 3% on Tuesday, possibly helping stocks limit early losses.

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Investors are still assessing whether the recent bounce in stocks is a bear market rally or has the market reached a bottom from this year’s sell-off.

“For six consecutive weeks since the beginning of April, investors continued to add new shorts and, hence, extend their bearish bias on the market. While this bearish momentum did fade at the end of May, the past week has shown no signs of any bullish flow momentum to support a more sustained rally from here,” Citi strategist Chris Montagu said in a note to clients.

Investors are still following what is a lighter week in company earnings. Food stock J.M. Smucker rose 5% after the company topped expectations for its quarterly report.

In economic data, May’s consumer price index reading is the big one investors are focused on, which is due out Friday. If the reading is cooler than April’s numbers, as expected, some could interpret it as a sign that inflation has peaked.