Wall Street ends lower as retailers stoke inflation fears

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  • Target hikes outlook, but stock falls on Q3 margin hit
  • EV maker stocks rise amid growing demand
  • Visa slips after Amazon balks at high UK fees
  • Indexes down: Dow 0.58%, S&P 0.26%, Nasdaq 0.33%

NEW YORK, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Wall Street benchmarks ended Wednesday lower on inflation fears and supply chain concerns stemming from retailers' earnings, with investors betting the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates sooner than expected to tame rising prices.

Target Corp (TGT.N) was the latest big-name retailer to report positive results, upping its annual forecasts and beating profit expectations, citing an early start to holiday shopping.

But shares of the firm fell 4.7%, tracking declines in those of peer Walmart (WMT.N) on Tuesday, as both retailers flagged a hit to their third-quarter margins from supply chain issues. read more

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Other retailers yet to report earnings traded lower. Macy's Inc (M.N) and Kohls Corp (KSS.N) dropped 4.5% and 3.1% respectively, ahead of posting numbers on Thursday morning, and Gap Inc (GPS.N) and Urban Outfitters Inc (URBN.O), on deck next week, slipped 5.2% and 4.2%.

Some retailers bucked the trend. TJX Companies Inc (TJX.N) gained 5.8%, its highest finish since Aug. 27, after the T.J. Maxx owner reported estimate-beating earnings, an increase in its share buyback program, and forecast it was well positioned to meet holiday-season demand. read more

Lowe's Cos Inc (LOW.N) rose 0.4% after the home improvement chain raised its full-year sales forecast on higher demand. Peer Home Depot (HD.N) had also reported strong results on Tuesday. read more

The Dow was also weighed by Visa Inc (V.N), which slumped 4.7% after Inc (AMZN.O) said it would stop accepting cards issued by the operator in the UK due to the high transaction fees. read more

While strong retail data this week showed a rise in inflation has not stifled economic growth so far, investors fear that further increases in prices could hurt growth and push the Federal Reserve into tightening policy ahead of schedule.

"You've got inflation at a 31-year high, but we're at the lowest interest rates we've ever had, so those things just don't connect," said Salem Abraham, portfolio manager of the Abraham Fortress Fund.

People are seen on Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 19, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

He added while supply chain issues would ease as COVID moved to endemic status, the huge increase seen in money supply would ensure inflation would remain a serious problem for years.

Contrasting comments from Fed Presidents James Bullard and Mary Daly on Tuesday also brewed more uncertainty in markets.

"The Fed will hold as long as they can ... But if (inflation) continues to go higher, and you continue to see inflationary pressure, then it becomes a question of how many and how often will (rates) rise," said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.

Strong retail earnings this week will round off an upbeat third-quarter earnings season, which had pushed Wall Street indexes to record highs.

Chipmaker Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O) dropped 3.1% ahead of its earnings reported after the bell on Wednesday. The wider Philadelphia semiconductor index (.SOX) ended 0.7% lower after a record finish the previous day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 211.17 points, or 0.58%, to 35,931.05, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 12.23 points, or 0.26%, to 4,688.67 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 52.28 points, or 0.33%, to 15,921.57.

Electric vehicle makers were broadly positive. Tesla (TSLA.O) and Canoo (GOEV.O) both gained 3.3%, the latter after forecasting it would start U.S. production sooner than expected. Sono Group NV (SEV.O) surged 155% on its Nasdaq debut. read more

But Rivian Automotive Inc (RIVN.O) tumbled 15.1% as investors locked in gains from a near 71% winning streak since the stock's listing last week.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.6 billion shares, compared with the 11.09 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

The S&P 500 posted 41 new 52-week highs and six new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 115 new highs and 244 new lows.

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Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Devik Jain in Bengaluru and David French in New York; Editing by Maju Samuel and Lisa Shumaker

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