Wall Street Slips Farther From Records

(AP) -- Stocks fell on Wall Street Friday and are on track for a mixed finish in a week that was heavy with reports showing that inflation, though broadly cooling, remains stubborn.

The S&P 500 fell 0.6% and is on track for a slight loss this week. The index set a record high on Tuesday, but has been mostly wavering since.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 155 points, or 0.4% as of 12:01 p.m., and the Nasdaq composite fell 1%.

Technology stocks were the biggest weights sinking the market. Software maker Adobe slumped 14.1% after giving investors a weak revenue forecast.

A closely-watched report from the University of Michigan showed that consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell in March. Consumers became slightly less optimistic about the economy, but continue to expect inflation to come down further, a potential sign that consumer prices will come under control.

Inflation remains the big concern for Wall Street amid hopes for the Federal Reserve to start cutting interest rates. The Fed sharply raised interest rates starting in 2022 in an effort to tame inflation back to its 2% target. Inflation at the consumer level was as high as 9.1% in 2022.

A report on consumer prices this week showed inflation remains stubborn, ticking up to 3.2% in February from 3.1% in January. Another report on prices at the wholesale level also showed inflation remains hotter than Wall Street expected.

Other reports this week showed some softening in the economy, which bolstered hopes for a continued long-term easing of inflation.

A rally for stocks that started in October has essentially stalled in March as investors try to determine the path ahead for inflation, the Fed and the economy.

"You can kind of look in either direction and find a find a reason to be concerned about equities," said Brian Nick, senior investment strategist at The Macro Institute.

Investors still have to worry about the lagging impact on the economy from the Fed's historic rate hikes, he said. The broader economy remains strong, but it is showing signs of slowing and that could mean a recession is still possible.

"Things happen more slowly than investors have come to process," he said. "Policy lag exerting a downward pull is a lot longer than what investors have priced in."

Fed officials will give their latest forecasts for where they see interest rates heading this year on Wednesday, following their latest policy meeting. Traders are still leaning toward a rate cut in June, according to data from CME Group. The central bank has previously signaled that it expects three rate cuts in 2024. Lower rates would relieve pressure on the economy and financial system.

Bond yields edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.31% from 4.29% late Thursday. The yield on the 2-year Treasury, rose 4.72% from 4.69%.

Weak financial forecasts weighed down several companies. Beauty products retailer Ulta Beauty fell 4.6% after giving investors a disappointing earnings forecast for the year. Electronics maker Jabil slumped 16.3% after trimming its revenue forecast for the year.

Markets in Europe mostly gained ground, while markets in Asia slipped.