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US STOCKS-Wall St slides as inflation woes dampen rate-cut bets

Credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shashwat Chauhan

March 15 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main stock indexes fell on Friday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading losses on worries that hotter-than-expected inflation figures could sully hopes of an early start to the Federal Reserve's rate-easing cycle.

Ten of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were trading lower. Rate-sensitive technology stocks .SPLRCT led the decline and were down 1.2%.

Most megacap growth stocks were under pressure, with Microsoft MSFT.O down 2.0%, while AI giant Nvidia NVDA.O shed 1%.

The Philadelphia Semiconductor index.SOX fell 1% and was on track to its worst weekly performance since January, ahead of the global GTC developer conference from March 18 to 21, which will be scrutinized for AI-related announcements.

Overall, Wall Street's AI-driven rally has stalled, as chip stocks lose some steam and recent data pointed to sticky inflation. The tech-laden Nasdaq was on track to ending its second straight week lower.

All eyes are now on next week's Federal Reserve meeting for possible clues on the timing of the central bank's first interest-rate cut this year.

Traders have reined in bets of a June rate cut by the Fed to about 58% from 73% last week, according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

"The earliest possible cut could be June, though we wouldn't be shocked to see that delayed to later in the year if the data continues to come in hot, as recent data has," said Carol Schleif, chief investment officer at BMO Family Office.

At 11:26 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 85.36 points, or 0.22%, at 38,820.30, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 24.55 points, or 0.48%, at 5,125.93, and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 130.43 points, or 0.81%, at 15,998.10.

Meanwhile, production at U.S. factories increased more than expected in February, but data for the month prior to that was revised sharply down as manufacturing remains hamstrung by higher interest rates.

The University of Michigan's preliminary reading on the overall index of consumer sentiment came in at 76.5 this month, versus an estimated reading of 76.9.

Micron TechnologyMU.O rose 2.3% after brokerage Citi raised its price target on the company to $150, the highest on Wall Street for the chipmaker, according to LSEG data.

Madrigal PharmaceuticalsMDGL.O jumped over 9%, after its oral drug won the U.S. health regulator's approval as the first treatment ever for a fatty liver disease known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

AdobeADBE.O slumped 14.2% after it forecast second-quarter revenue below analysts' estimates, following stiff competition and weak demand for its AI-integrated photography, illustration and video.

Ulta BeautyULTA.O fell 5.6% after forecasting full-year profit below Wall Street estimates, as elevated supply-chain costs and increased promotions hurt its margins.

Of the 498 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported quarterly earnings to date, 76.1% beat analyst expectations, according to LSEG data.

The S&P index recorded 22 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 37 new highs and 101 new lows.

6 of 11 major S&P 500 sectors set for weekly gains https://tmsnrt.rs/491wcJQ

(Reporting by Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shashwat Chauhan in Bengaluru; Editing by Pooja Desai)

((BansariMayur.Kamdar@thomsonreuters.com; Follow on X: @BansariKamdar; Shashwat.Chauhan@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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