Stock Market Today: Stocks Slip With Inflation Data in Focus

Feb 26, 2024

Stocks opened higher Monday but ran out of steam as the session wore on. There are plenty of notable companies on this week’s earnings calendar, including tech giant Salesforce (CRM, +2.6%). But the bulk of attention will be centered on a busy economic calendar that includes Thursday’s key inflation update.   

“While many traders will be watching durable goods orders and the first revision to fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP), Thursday’s Personal Consumption and Expenditures (PCE) Price Index may get more attention than usual,” says Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investing at E*TRADE from Morgan Stanley

This data point “often flies under the radar,” Larkin notes, but following recent hotter-than-expected inflation readings, “more people may be looking to the PCE for insight into the reinflation threat, and how it may influence the Fed’s timing of rate cuts.”

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FTC sues to block Kroger’s buyout of Albertsons

In single-stock news, (AMZN) shed 0.2% on its first day as a Dow Jones stock. The e-commerce giant replaced Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA, -3.4%) as a member of the 30-component index ahead of today’s open. Dan Burrows, senior investing writer at, explains why this matters here.

Kroger (KR) was another notable mover Monday, slipping 2.0% on news the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is suing to block its $25 billion buyout of fellow grocery chain Albertsons (ACI, +0.6%). The FTC lawsuit says the deal will create higher food prices for consumers and lower wages for employees.

“Kroger’s acquisition of Albertsons would lead to additional grocery price hikes for everyday goods, further exacerbating the financial strain consumers across the country face today,” said Henry Liu, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition. “Essential grocery store workers would also suffer under this deal, facing the threat of their wages dwindling, benefits diminishing, and their working conditions deteriorating.” 

Berkshire ends Q4 with $167 billion in cash 

Elsewhere, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) fell 1.9% after Warren Buffett‘s holding company released its fourth-quarter earnings report over the weekend. Berkshire beat analysts’ per-share earnings estimates for the three-month period. The report also showed BRK.B bought back $2.2 billion in stock in Q4 – and $9.2 billion for all of 2023. 

Additionally, the company ended the period with cash and equivalents totaling $167.6 billion. This staggering figure – equivalent to the market caps of blue chip stocks International Business Machines (IBM, -0.9%) or Verizon Communications (VZ, -2.4%) – has many wondering what Berkshire plans to do with all this cash? It seems nothing … for now.

“There remain only a handful of companies in this country capable of truly moving the needle at Berkshire, and they have been endlessly picked over by us and by others,” wrote Buffett in his letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. “Some we can value; some we can’t. And, if we can, they have to be attractively priced. Outside the U.S., there are essentially no candidates that are meaningful options for capital deployment at Berkshire. All in all, we have no possibility of eye-popping performance.” 

As for the main indexes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 39,069, the S&P 500 gave back 0.4% to 5,069, and the Nasdaq Composite finished down 0.1% at 15,976.

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