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Small-Caps & Tech Sell Off Ahead of July CPI

Tech stocks and small-caps — the two strongest segments of this mini-rally off June lows — were hit the hardest on this down day for trading. The Dow dropped -56 points, -0.17%, while the S&P 500 was -0.42% on the day. The tech-heavy Nasdaq lost -150 points, -1.19%, and the small-cap Russell 2000 — which has grown +12% in just the past month, lost -1.58% today.

As we’ve seen in days and hours prior to a major economic print — and tomorrow’s July CPI qualifies — markets tend to shrivel in the short-term a bit, either to get a lead-off ahead of a bad report or a way to springload stock buying if the news is better than expected. We’re still down double-digits across the board, so we’re far from overbought anywhere you look, but we do tend to see buoyant positivity get boiled away immediately ahead of big economic news.

CPI numbers, by the way, are currently expected to drop 40 basis points month over month to +8.7% — still steamingly high — on +6.1% core, which would actually be 20 basis points higher month over month. Although much oxygen will be breathed regarding these pending figures, the reality is that even a strong surprise to the downside — say, to +6% headline, +4% core — would still be well shy of the Fed’s optimum inflation levels. In short, even very good CPI numbers tomorrow will likely not halt the Fed from twisting the screws on the Fed funds rate in September.

The markets have also been in somewhat of a holding pattern for August thus far, without a Fed meeting this month to gauge interest rate hikes. We’re now in “watch the petri dish” mode, whereby we notice the Fed’s handiwork in economic data in drips and drabs. July CPI will be the biggest, arguably, of the entire month, with last Friday’s robust jobs report already behind us. But there will also be Housing Starts and Retail Sales next week which should also color in our current picture.

Two companies that issued IPOs during the pandemic have released Q2 results after Tuesday’s closing bell, with both coming in wide of the mark on the bottom line: Coinbase Global COIN lost -$4.98 per share in the quarter just passed, while Roblox RBLX was down -30 cents per share. These compare negatively to -$3.04 per share and -23 cents per share, respectively, from the Zacks consensus.

We moderate a bit on quarterly sales: Coinbase brought in $808 million — beneath the $877 million analysts were expecting, down -31% quarter over quarter and -64% year over year, while Roblox beat expectations in the quarter on revenues — $640 million versus $636.6 million expected, with Daily Active Users (DAU) +21% year over year. Coinbase counted 9 million users on net trading volume -53% from a year ago.

It’s the videogame developer that’s really taking the hit in late trading today, -12%; the crypto exchange platform is down -3.5% at this hour. Both companies have struggled making bottom-line expectations in the quarters since their early-2021 initial public offerings, as both have seen their fortunes pale a bit with the waning of the pandemic. Coinbase is -65% year to date while Roblox is -52%. Lower guidance from both may lead to lower near-term Zacks Ranks for the #3-ranked (Hold) stocks.

Wynn Resorts WYNN took an expected hit from shutdown at its Macau locations on government-mandated Covid shutdowns in the quarter just reported, but outperformed on its bottom line: -82 cents per share versus -94 cents expected (and the -$1.12 per share reported a year ago), on $909 million in revenues, well off the $1.01 billion in the Zacks consensus. Its Macau businesses were somewhat offset by bigger-than-expected gains in Las Vegas and Boston Harbor properties.

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