Stock market today: Wall Street inches lower as retailers post holiday numbers

Wall Street pointed slightly lower on Tuesday as more retailers release holiday season results and ahead of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell's appearance before Congress later this week.

S&P 500 futures fell 0.3% and Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 0.2%.

Momentum for US stocks has slowed after hitting all-time highs as Inflation appears to be coolingshort to Interest rates may be coming and the US economy has so far ignored the predictions for a recession.

Although earnings season is almost over, several big retailers will report their latest quarterly results this week, which could give analysts a clearer picture of how Americans feel about the economy and their personal finances.

Target reported a 58% increase in fourth-quarter earnings, handily beating Wall Street expectations as a retailer. Cut costs and maintained efficient inventory.. Shares of the Minneapolis company rose 8.5% before the bell on Tuesday.

Costco Wholesale, Gap and Nordstrom all released holiday numbers this week.

AeroVironment, a Virginia defense contractor that specializes in drones, rose 17.5% before the bell after beating Wall Street's sales forecast and nearly doubling profit targets.

Several events scheduled for this week could disrupt the market.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will testify before a House committee on monetary policy. He has said the Fed's next move will likely be a cut, but he has also said he needs more evidence that inflation is falling decisively toward its 2% target. That was before recent reports showed inflation both at the consumer and wholesale The levels were higher than expected.

A report on Friday will show how the U.S. labor market is faring, with economists predicting a slowdown from January's strong growth.

In Europe at midday, Germany's DAX, Paris' CAC 40 and Britain's FTSE 100 all rose back to level after falling slightly in the morning.

In Asia, Hong Kong's benchmark index sank 2.6% after China's prime minister said the country's economic growth target for this year is around 5%, in line with expectations. China's economy expanded at an annual rate of 5.2% last year after growth fell to 3% in 2022.

Li Qiang, in his speech at the opening meeting of the China meeting. National Congress of Peoplealso said Beijing would issue 1 trillion yuan ($139 billion) in long-term bonds to help close financing gaps, provide support to financially troubled local governments and invest in both advanced technology and social support and education.

He said China would expand government-subsidized housing, part of a program aimed at reversing a slowdown in the property market after a crackdown on over-borrowing caused dozens of developers to default on their debts.

But the government's intention to keep its deficit at 3% of China's GDP disappointed investors who were expecting more aggressive action, Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary.

"The unchanged 3% target fell below expectations and signaled a cautious approach to fiscal policy," he said.

The congress is the biggest political event of the year, although it mainly endorses policies set by top leaders of the ruling Communist Party.

Initial reaction to Li's speech and annual budget report, also released Tuesday, seemed lukewarm. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index lost 2.6% to 16,162.64 and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.3% to 3,047.79, barely moving for most of the day.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index finished steady at 40,097.63, just below Monday's record close.

In Seoul, the Kospi sank 0.9% to 2,649.40, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2% to 7,724.20.

India's Sensex fell 0.3% while Taiwan's Taiex gained 0.4%.

In other trading early Tuesday, benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 74 cents to $78 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 58 cents to $82.22 a barrel.

The US dollar was unchanged at 150.53 Japanese yen. The euro fell to $1.0845 from $1.0856.

On Monday, the S&P 500 fell 0.1%, after reaching its latest all-time high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% and the Nasdaq composite lost 0.4%.

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