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NEW YORK: U.S. stocks lost ground on Monday as a lack of catalysts left market participants warily embarking on a week back-end loaded with crucial inflation data and the unofficial beginning to second-quarter earnings season.
Market leading growth stocks pulled all three major U.S. stock indexes into negative territory, with risk-off sentiment exacerbated by Macau's first casino shutdown in over two years to curb the spread of COVID-19.
"It’s a nervous market," said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Seattle. "It’s all about the kick-off to earnings season and what inflation (data) tells us."
"We know inflation is being driven by supply constraints, and China is an important factor," Haworth added. "And (the Macau shutdown) threw a cold blanket on the market this morning."
Results from big banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N, Citigroup Inc C.N, and Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N, are expected to launch second-quarter reporting season later this week.
The S&P 500 Banking index .SPXBK slid 1.0%.
Analysts expect steep plunges of year-on-year profits as the companies grow their loan loss reserves, fueling fears of impending recession.,
Later in the week a raft of economic data - including consumer prices, retail sales and factory output - should provide a glimpse of the extent to which inflation has peaked and the economy has cooled down as the Federal Reserve moves closer to next week's policy meeting, which is expected to culminate in the second straight 75 basis point interest rate hike.
"The market is trying to caution itself ahead of that (CPI) print," Haworth said. "We’re hoping for a slowdown, which would put the Federal Reserve in a softer stance, but on the other hand, there are lots of reasons to believe inflation could stay high and the Fed will remain aggressive."
The market currently expects that the central bank will raise the Fed funds futures rate by 75 basis points in its latest salvo against red-hot inflation, a tactic which some fear could tip an already cooling economy into recession.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 164.31 points, or 0.52%, to 31,173.84, the S&P 500 44.95 points, or 1.15%, to 3,854.43 and the Nasdaq Composite .262.71 points, or 2.26%, to 11,372.60.
Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, communication services .SPLRCL suffered the biggest percentage drop, while utilities .SPLRCU led the gainers.
Before big banks launch second quarter earnings season in earnest on Thursday and Friday, PepsiCo PEP.N and Delta Air Line DAL.N results are expected Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
As of Friday, analysts saw aggregate annual S&P earnings growth of 5.7% for the April to June period, down from the 6.8% forecast at the beginning of the quarter, according to Refinitiv.