Inflation worries spook US stocks

By CNN Business

Updated 9:19 a.m. ET, May 20, 2021
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12:48 p.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Crypto stocks are getting crushed too

From CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica

Software firm MicroStrategy, which holds a lot of bitcoin on its balance sheet, is buying the massive dip in cryptocurrencies.

MicroStrategy disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Tuesday that it recently acquired 229 bitcoin for $10 million and now owns more than 92,000 bitcoin. At current prices, that's worth about $3.4 billion — more than 75% of MicroStrategy's market value.

But the trouble for MicroStrategy (MSTR) is that nobody appears to be buying the dip in its stock. Shares tumbled 8% Wednesday and are down 17% in the past five days. CEO Michael Saylor, one of the more prominent crypto evangelists among Corporate America execs, continues to tout bitcoin on Twitter, saying he's not selling. Ever.

And the good news for MicroStrategy is that, according to Tuesday's SEC filing, the company spent $2.25 billion to amass its bitcoin stake. So the company is still sitting on a more than 50% return from its purchase price. Its stock is up 15% year-to-date, too.

Still, those gains are fading fast. It doesn't help that Tesla (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, who is just a tad more famous and influential than Saylor, recently made negative comments about bitcoin and its energy usage -- concerns that have helped contribute to the recent slide.

Other crypto related stocks are plummeting, too. Bitcoin miners Riot Blockchain (RIOT) and Marathon Digital Holdings (MARA) each fell nearly 10% Wednesday. And the recently public crypto exchange Coinbase Global (COIN), which suffered brief outages Wednesday, plunged 6%. The company is now trading below its direct listing reference price and is nearly 50% off the peak levels it hit just last month on its first day of trading.

11:31 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Institutional investors are ditching bitcoin for gold: JPMorgan

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Institutional investors have had enough of cryptos for the moment, according to strategists at JPMorgan (JPM).

"Institutional investors appear to be shifting away from bitcoin and back into traditional gold, reversing the trend of the previous two quarters," they said in a note Tuesday.

"Over the past month, bitcoin futures markets experienced their steepest and more sustained liquidation since the bitcoin ascent started last October," the strategist wrote.

It's unclear what's driving the sudden shift.

"Perhaps institutional investors are fleeing bitcoin as they see its previous two quarter uptrend ending and thus seek the stability of traditional gold away from the rapid downshifting of digital gold," according to JPMorgan.

Or maybe investors view the price of bitcoin as too high relative to metals. That said, the price hypothesis is getting a reality check today, with bitcoin down nearly 14% to around $37,700 per coin.

11:12 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Coinbase is back up

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

What a hectic morning it has been.

After the steep selloff in cryptocurrencies caused disruptions for trading platforms Coinbase (COIN) and Coindesk, both sites are up and running again.

And while the digital currency market still looks pretty red, your favorite cryptos are retracing some of their losses.

Bitcoin is down around 15%, just under $36,800 per coin, while Ethereum has fallen nearly 23%, to just below $2,600 per unit, according to Coindesk data.

10:23 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Dow slides more than 500 points

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

The market is sliding deeper into the red, and less than an hour into the trading day the Dow lost more than 500 points, or 1.5%.

The S&P 500 was also down 1.5% and the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.3%.

Even though the economic calendar in the US is light today, inflation spikes in Canada and the United Kingdom are exacerbating investors' worries about prices rising so severely they would force a change in monetary policy.

9:58 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Stocks and cryptos tumble

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Wall Street was in the red again Wednesday morning, following the European stock indexes lower as inflation fears are also bubbling up on the other side of the pond.

The Dow opened down 1%, or about 350 points, while the broader S&P 500 fell 1.3%. The Nasdaq Composite tumbled 1.7%.

But nowhere was the market weakness more pronounced than in the cryptocurrency world following a crackdown on digital currencies in China. Bitcoin plunged below $40,000 and Ethereum fell below $2,400. Crypto platforms Coindesk and Coinbase (COIN) experienced outages in the wake of the selloff.

9:30 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Coinbase and Coindesk hit with outages

From CNN Business' Anneken Tappe

Cryptocurrencies are tumbling today in the wake of a crackdown on digital currencies in China.

But the selloff has intensified enough that trading platforms Coinbase (COIN) and Coindesk both experienced outages early Wednesday. Coindesk was back up just before the market opened.

Bitcoin has plunged below $40,000 per coin and Ethereum slid below $2,500.

8:12 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Lowe's boosted by strong housing market, but stock falls anyway

From CNN Business' Paul R. La Monica

The scintillating housing market continues to lift Lowe's (LOW). The home improvement retailer reported sales and earnings that topped Wall Street's forecasts, just like rival Home Depot (HD) did a day earlier.

Lowe's said Wednesday that it posted a net profit of $2.3 billion in the first quarter, a nearly 75% surge from the same period a year ago. Revenue was up almost 25% from the first quarter of 2020 — when the US economy went into a virtual standstill due to Covid-19.

CEO Marvin Ellison, a veteran Home Depot executive who joined Lowe's in 2018 after a brief stint as the head of struggling JCPenney, hinted that Lowe's gains may be coming at the expense of Home Depot. He said in the earnings release that the "outstanding performance" was due in part to "market share gains."

But that, as well as a solid outlook, wasn't enough to impress Wall Street. Lowe's shares fell about 2% in early trading, as inflation fears are once again rattling the market.

Inflation is helping Lowe's and Home Depot though. Rising lumber prices have been one of the factors propelling sales gains. And both stocks are still up about 20% year-to-date.

7:23 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Bitcoin plunges to $40,000 as China widens its crypto crackdown

From CNN Business' Laura He and Michelle Toh

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are plunging as anxiety spreads through the market — this time, after China took more steps to crack down on the digital coins.

The world's most heavily traded cryptocurrency plunged 10% Wednesday to trade at $40,728 per coin, according to Coindesk, a news and information website specializing in crypto assets. That's bitcoin's lowest level since February. It also represents a 36% drop since hitting a record $63,347 in April.

Read more here.

6:35 a.m. ET, May 19, 2021

Burger King launches new chicken sandwich nationwide

From CNN Business' Danielle Wiener-Bronner

Burger King's new chicken sandwich is here, and it's entering a market that's more crowded than ever.

The burger chain first announced its new chicken sandwich in February. Since then, it has been rolling out the sandwich — served on a potato bun with pickles and a savory sauce — across its US stores.

Burger King worked on its sandwich for about two years before bringing it to market, Ellie Doty, chief marketing office for Burger King North America, told CNN Business.

To help distinguish the product, Burger King also renamed the sandwich, calling it the Ch'King (previously, it had been referred to as the hand-breaded crispy chicken sandwich.)

Read more here.