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S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite end lower, halting two days of wins, while Dow industrials also finishes down

By Vivien Lou Chen and Mark DeCambre

Biden signs $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes closed lower, limiting wins to two days in a row, while Dow industrials also gave up earlier gains, as investors remain focused on rising inflation and its impact on yields for government debt and borrowing costs.Dow industrials had been buoyed earlier in the day byshares of Boeing Co., the aerospace giant, which reported a number of orders for its planes from the 2021 Dubai Airshow.

How did major indexes perform?

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Monday's modest pullback in equities came as Treasury yields jumped across the board on expectations that the Federal Reserve may have to taper its monthly bond purchases at a faster-than-anticipated pace, given signs of persistent inflation. Tapering is the prerequisite first step before a rate increase, and policy makers could facture next year over when to deliver the first hike.

Concerted moves of small magnitude aren't common, with the last time all three major indexes ending less than 0.05% off their prior close was Sept. 14, 2018, according to Dow Jones Market Data."We see equities as a potential buffer against inflation because we expect a more muted response of yields to inflation than in the past," according to Jean Boivin and others at the research arm of BlackRock Inc., the world's largest money manager. "Real, or inflation-adjusted, yields should remain low or negative as a result, making equities attractive. In addition, many companies so far have been able to pass on higher input costs and keep their margins intact."See:Why the hottest inflation in 3 decades isn't rattling stock-market bullsAll three major stock indexes dropped on Monday after having started out on a relatively bullish footing, with a report on New York state manufacturing activity boosting sentiment on Wall Street. The New York Fed's Empire State manufacturing business conditions index rose 11.1 points to 30.9 in November, the regional Fed bank said Monday. Economists had expected a reading of 22, according to a survey by The Wall Street Journal.Strong third-quarter earnings have been a pillar of this recent run-up in equities, with consumers central to the economic rebound from the debilitating COVID-19 crisis.Last Friday's University of Michigan consumer-sentiment survey showed inflation weighing on consumer attitudes, though it isn't clear that will translate into weaker spending. The October retail sales report is due Tuesday, and the median forecast of economists is for a 1% gain in the reading that excludes autos.

"Supply chain pressures are easing and should allow equities to continue to deliver strong revenue growth and record margins," wrote analysts led by JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Marko Kolanovic, chief global markets strategist. "Even for the cohort that faces meaningful disruptions, we expect these issues to largely abate" by the second half of 2022, "resulting in delayed revenues rather than demand destruction."

The inflation backdrop makes the next choice of Federal Reserve chair all the more important politically for President Joe Biden. The Wall Street Journal reported that Biden is said to be deciding between reappointing Chairman Jerome Powell or choosing Fed Gov. Lael Brainard as early as this week. Biden interviewed both candidates earlier this month, and the meeting with Brainard was described by people familiar with the matter as going better than expected, the report said.

Biden also signed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law Monday afternoon. He's also due to hold a virtual meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the evening.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde told the European Parliament that the central bank expects inflation to moderate next year, though prices will take longer to decline than originally expected. She also said that it was "very unlikely" conditions would be met by next year that would allow for an interest-rate hike. European inflation data is due for release this week.

-Vivien Lou Chen

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

11-15-21 1706ET

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