Dow surges after inflation cools more than expected

By Paul R. La Monica, CNN

Updated 8:30 PM ET, Tue December 13, 2022
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4:07 p.m. ET, December 13, 2022

US markets close higher after inflation slows more than expected

From CNN's Nicole Goodkind

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, December 13, in New York City.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, December 13, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

US stocks closed higher Tuesday as investors celebrated lighter-than-expected inflation data the day before a key Federal Reserve policy decision.

Stocks surged after inflation came in at its lowest level since December of last year. Prices in November rose 7.1% annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' closely watched Consumer Price Index. That’s down from 7.7% in October and below economists’ expectations of 7.3%. On a month-to-month basis, prices rose by 0.1% last month, as compared to October's reading of 0.4%.

The news comes ahead of the Federal Reserve’s highly anticipated rate hike decision at the conclusion of its two-day policy meeting Wednesday. The report will be a key consideration as central bank officials continue their fight against persistently high inflation.

Traders are pricing in a half-point rate increase, down slightly from the last four three-quarter point hikes. It would be the seventh rate hike in 2022.

The Dow closed up 104 points, or 0.3%, on Tuesday.

The S&P 500 grew 0.7%. 

The Nasdaq Composite was 1% higher.

3:04 p.m. ET, December 13, 2022

Coinbase plunges despite crypto comeback

(Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images)
(Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Bitcoin may be rallying Tuesday. But that's not helping investors in struggling crypto investment and brokerage firm Coinbase. Shares of Coinbase (COIN) fell 8% Tuesday, hitting a new 52-week low in the process.

Its shares are now down 85% this year. Wall Street analysts have mixed thoughts on what's next for the company, which competes with bankrupt FTX. Eleven analysts have rated Coinbase as a "buy" while thirteen recommend a lukewarm "hold" on it and five have an outright "sell" on the stock.

But Ark Invest, the firm run by tech and momentum stock champion Cathie Wood, has recently bought additional shares of Coinbase in her Ark Innovation fund. Of course, Wood's star power on Wall Street has dimmed this year as Coinbase and other top investments such as Zoom (ZM), Tesla (TSLA) and Roku (ROKU) have soured. Ark Innovation (ARKK) has plummeted 62% in 2022.

1:34 p.m. ET, December 13, 2022

Bitcoin bounces following SBF arrest

(Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The implosion of erstwhile crypto unicorn FTX and arrest of its founder Sam Bankman-Fried is not the best PR for cryptocurrencies. But investors appear to be betting that the worst could soon be over for bitcoin after a brutal year.

Bitcoin prices actually rose about 4% to nearly $18,000 earlier Tuesday. That's the highest price for the world's most valuable crypto since early November.

Some experts are hoping that the FTX fiasco will ultimately lead to a more stable and mature industry. Digital currencies aren't necessarily going away.

“Whilst this will continue to trigger volatility and price dips, the scrutiny will act as a shake-out of bad actors," said Nigel Green, CEO of deVere Group, a fintech advisory firm in a report.

“Ultimately, what’s happened this year...will push fit and proper industry leaders and financial watchdogs to seize this moment as a point of inflection and to work together in order to further shore up the sector and instill trust and transparency by means of sensible, workable regulation,” Green added.

It may take time for investors to come back to crypto though. Many are naturally feeling burned by the plunge in bitcoin's price and the bankruptcy of FTX, not to mention other crypto firms such as Celsius, BlockFi and Voyager Digital.

"Leverage, volatility, and interest have faded as investors battle with declining prices," said analysts at Citi Research in a report Tuesday. " Bitcoin is down about 60% this year.

"A key focus for 2023 is whether...investors, both retail and institutional, slowly regain trust." 

12:43 p.m. ET, December 13, 2022

So much for that market rally?

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Stocks hit their lows of the day in midday trading. The Dow gave up all of its gains from earlier in the morning and was down 0.1%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq, which both surged at the opening bell, were up just 0.3% and 0.4%.

There was no clear catalyst for the pullback. But it seems that investor enthusiasm about the government's latest report on consumer prices is being replaced by a return of the unease that Wall Street has about the likelihood of more (albeit smaller) interest rate hikes coming from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday and throughout 2023.

Wall Street is nervous that the Fed's tightening (keep in mind that it has already lifted rates from near zero at the start of 2022 to their current range of 3.75% to 4%) will eventually slow the economy...and may even tip it into recession. The housing market has already been hit hard by soaring mortgage rates.

12:25 p.m. ET, December 13, 2022

Here's how much inflation costs the average US household each month

From CNN's Alicia Wallace

CPI inflation may be at its lowest level since December of last year, but it still remains historically -- and painfully -- high.

November's 7.1% annual rate means the typical American household needs to shell out $396 more per month to buy the same goods and services as they did a year before, according to Moody's Analytics.

While that nearly $400 extra needed per month isn't as bad as the $493 needed per month when inflation soared to 9.1% in June, the high prices are still wearing down Americans and their finances.

"The November CPI print provides further reassurance that the worst of the current inflationary bout may be over; however, the Federal Reserve is still not off the hook," Bernard Yaros, a Moody's Analytics economist, said in a statement.

Moody's is expecting the Fed to announce a half-point interest rate increase tomorrow at the conclusion of its meeting and follow that up with quarter-point increases in January and March.

12:02 p.m. ET, December 13, 2022

The best news in the CPI report? Price increases are slowing across multiple categories

From CNN's Alicia Wallace

Used cars sit on lot at a dealership in Queens, New York, in January.
Used cars sit on lot at a dealership in Queens, New York, in January. (Pablo Monsalve/VIEWpress via Getty Images)

The Consumer Price Index report delivered a bit of holiday cheer on Tuesday, showing that the slowdown in prices has spread across all goods and services.

"It's hard not to be encouraged by this," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, told CNN's Kate Bolduan Tuesday morning after the CPI report was released.

Here's where that price improvement shows up, on a monthly and annual basis:

Energy: Prices are down 1.6% from October; annual increase of 13.1% (lowest since February 2021).

Used cars and trucks: Prices are down 2.9% from October; annual decrease of 3.3% (lowest annual rate since September 2017).

New vehicles: Monthly rate of price increases declined to 0% in October; prices up 7.2% annually (lowest since July 2021).

Airline fares: Prices down 3% from October; annually, however, prices are up 36% from November 2021 (smallest annual increase since August 2022)

Services less energy: November's 0.4% monthly increase is the lowest monthly increase since July.

Food: November's 0.5% increase is the lowest monthly rate since December 2021; annually, prices are up 10.6% (lowest increase since June 2022)

11:34 a.m. ET, December 13, 2022

Stocks still up...but they're off their highs

Wall Street was in slightly less of a euphoric mood as lunchtime approached. (Maybe traders need some calories to get their blood sugar...and stock prices...back up?)

The market was still solidly green for the day as of late Tuesday morning. But stocks were off their highs after surging at the open thanks to the latest read on inflation.

Health care stocks were notable laggards. UnitedHealth (UNH) and biotech Amgen (AMGN) were the biggest losers in the Dow. Amgen was also the only Dow stock to fall on Monday, dipping after announcing a nearly $28 billion acquisition of drug maker Horizon Therapeutics (HZNP).

The Dow was up nearly 275 points, or 0.8%, after soaring about 700 points after the open.

The S&P 500 gained 1.6%. 

The Nasdaq Composite rose 2.2%.

11:21 a.m. ET, December 13, 2022

Tesla stock not taking part in market rally

Wall Street cheered the latest data on inflation.

Big tech stocks, including Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT), Google owner Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook parent Meta Platforms (META) enjoyed particularly notable gains. But one leader of the Nasdaq was absent from the market party: Elon Musk's Tesla.

Shares of Tesla (TSLA) fell more than 2% Tuesday, hitting a new 52-week low in the process.

Tesla's stock has now plunged more than 50% this year. Is the fact that Musk seems to be spending a lot of time focusing on Twitter, his new $44 billion social media toy, a problem?

"Clearly, [Tesla's] share price performance has been hurt by the incessant noise surrounding Twitter since Elon Musk completed his acquisition in late October," said CFRA Research analyst Garrett Nelson in a recent report.

Nelson nonetheless has a "strong buy" on Tesla, noting in particular that he thinks worries that Musk will have to sell more Tesla shares to help Twitter are overblown.

But Dan Ives of Wedbush, who has been critical of Musk since the Twitter deal closed, is still expressing concerns. He said in a report in late November that "the Twitter circus show continues to go on with Musk laser focused on turning around this troubled platform while creating controversy on a daily basis."

Ives added that "the PR Twilight Zone of Twitter happens for the world to see and advertisers remain at bay while the Musk wild card of content moderation is front and center." Musk's penchant for controversial (and potentially alienating) tweets aren't helping.

That's not good news for Twitter or Tesla. Ives said there are legitimate worries about "brand deterioration of Musk associated with Tesla."

It's too soon to know if consumers will start to shun Tesla's cars because they don't like what the CEO says on Twitter.

But Ives thinks investors are obviously worried. "At the end of the day, Musk is Tesla and Tesla is Musk," he said.

10:56 a.m. ET, December 13, 2022

Inflation may be easing, but grocery prices are still way up

From CNN's Danielle Wiener-Bronner

A shopper passes frozen turkeys inside a grocery store in New York on November 14.
A shopper passes frozen turkeys inside a grocery store in New York on November 14. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Once again, food inflation is outpacing overall inflation. 

A number of pantry and refrigerator staples continued to get more expensive last month, the latest CPI report shows. Eggs, which have been affected by the deadly avian flu, were a staggering 49.1% more expensive through November, and butter prices, hit by a contraction in the milk supply, shot up 27%. 

Flour prices jumped 24.9%, bread went up 15.7%, milk was 14.7% more expensive and coffee prices rose 14.6%. Chicken was up 12%, fruits and vegetables spiked 9.7%.

There were some items that got cheaper over the course of the year, particularly in the meat aisle. 

Uncooked beef roasts fell 8.1%, and uncooked beef steaks dropped 7.4%. Pork roasts, steaks and ribs slipped 5.1%, and bacon ticked down 1.1%. 

Food prices are affected by a number of factors, including extreme weather, diseases impacting crops and livestock, supply chain complications and geopolitical unrest including the war in Ukraine. That makes it more difficult for the US government to use tactics like raising interest rates to moderate food prices.