Stocks Finish Lower, Bond Yields Slip Ahead of Inflation Data

Stocks end lower Wednesday as Wall Street prepares for the latest data on inflation.
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Stocks moved lower Wednesday as Wall Street prepared for the latest data on inflation that could influence monetary policy at the Federal Reserve.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 152 points, or 0.44%, to 34,447, and the S&P 500 slipped 0.18% and fell just shy of an all-time intraday high. The Nasdaq declined 0.09%.

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Stocks had finished mostly higher Tuesday as traders looked for clues on how rising price pressures may affect the Federal Reserve's support for a U.S. economy recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The focus for traders remains on the Labor Department's report Thursday on consumer prices and what it might mean for the Fed's accommodative policies. 

The fear is that if the economy runs too hot and inflation runs too high, the Fed may pare back its monthly asset purchases and boost interest rates sooner than anticipated.

The Fed repeatedly has tried to assure markets that any spike in inflation resulting from the country's economic recovery would be transitory.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury fell to 1.489%, dropping below 1.5% for the first time since May 7. Back in March, yields rose as high as 1.774%.

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Bitcoin was up 10.5% to $36,223. Giving the world's largest cryptocurrency a boost was the passing of a law in El Salvador that adopted Bitcoin as legal tender

Meme stocks, meanwhile, have continued to capture the imagination of retail investors and Wall Street pros alike.

GameStop  (GME) - Get Report, one of the top meme stocks favored by retail investors, finished 0.9% higher at $302.56. The company is scheduled to report earnings after the closing bell Wednesday. 

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Bed, Bath & Beyond  (BBBY) - Get Report, AMC Entertainment  (AMC) - Get Report and Clover Health  (CLOV) - Get Report all finished lower. 

Wendy's  (WEN) - Get Report also fell. It had closed at a record on Tuesday after it found favor among the increasingly influential army of Reddit investors. 

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