US stocks were higher early Wednesday as investors await word from the Federal Reserve following its FOMC meeting conclusion in the early afternoon on an expected 75-basis point rate hike.
On Wall Street Tuesday, big-cap consumer/tech titans fell sharply Tuesday, with Microsoft and Alphabet tumbling more than 2.3% before reporting earnings after the bell. Those two stocks, and Meta Platforms, are the only losers in the group this month.
The benchmark S&P 500 index fell 1.2% to 3,921.05. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.7% to 31,761.54. The Nasdaq composite closed 1.9% lower at 11,562.57.
Walmart slumped 7.6% after the retail giant cut its profit outlook for the second quarter and the full year late Tuesday. It said rising prices for food and gasoline are forcing shoppers to cut back on more profitable discretionary items, particularly clothing.
The retailer’s profit warning in the middle of the quarter is rare and raised worries about how the highest inflation in 40 years is affecting the entire retail sector.
Other major chains also fell. Target dropped 3.6%, Macy’s slid 7.2% and Kohl’s fell 9.1%.
General Motors fell 3.4% after its second-quarter profit fell 40% from a year ago.
U.S. sales fell 15% after shortages of processor chips and other components left the company unable to deliver 95,000 vehicles during the quarter.
Meanwhile, Asian stock markets followed Wall Street lower Wednesday. Shanghai, Hong Kong and South Korea declined. Tokyo and Sydney advanced.
The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.1% to 3,274.37 while Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 advanced 0.3% to 27,728.93.
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong sank 1.5% to 20,590.46. The Kospi in Seoul retreated 0.4% to 2,401.78 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.1% to 6,814.00.
India’s Sensex opened up 0.3% at 55,418.55. New Zealand, Bangkok and Jakarta advanced while Singapore declined.