A broad cross section of stocks stumbled on Tuesday, as market watchers focused on deteriorating macroeconomic conditions and the potential that things could get worse before they get better.
E-commerce platform Amazon (AMZN -1.04%) stock was down as much as 2.3% on Tuesday morning, mobile games platform Skillz (SKLZ -4.79%) slipped as much as 5.1% and online used car retailer Carvana (CVNA -1.07%) was off by as much as 6.7%. As of 2:34 p.m. ET, the trio were still trading lower, down 1.5%, 2.9%, and 3%, respectively. These stocks followed the broader market lower, as the S&P 500 gave up 1.2%, while the Nasdaq Composite declined more than 1.4%.
There was very little in the way of company-specific news behind the sell-off, but fears regarding the faltering economy intensified as investors weighed the possibility that they could be facing higher inflation and the potential for a prolonged recession.
A report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics added to the growing mountain of evidence that the economy could be worse off than originally expected. The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary for July found that there were almost 1 million more job openings than market watchers expected. The total number of available positions rose to 11.24 million, far exceeding the 10.3 million predicted.
Economists have been keeping a close eye on the growing shortage of candidates to fill the available positions, a situation that seems to be getting worse instead of better. There are now nearly two jobs openings for each available candidate. As a result, prospective employers are forced to offer higher wages in order to entice potential employees, which in turn increases inflationary pressures.
In another sign of the tightening job market, the number of job openings increased in July compared to June, with an additional 200,000 positions going unfilled.
The news come on the heels of remarks by Federal Reserve Bank chair Jerome Powell late last week that suggested the Fed would continue its aggressive campaign to combat inflation. "While higher interest rates, slower growth, and softer labor market conditions will bring down inflation, they will also bring some pain to households and businesses," Powell said. "These are the unfortunate costs of reducing inflation."
The Fed has been working to reduce the number of unfilled positions without sparking higher unemployment. Unfortunately, the red-hot job market increases the likelihood that the central bank will be forced into another 0.75% rate increase when policymakers meet again in September, which would mark the third successive rate hike of this magnitude in four months.
So what does this all have to do with this trio of companies? The continuing prospect of an economic slowdown will weigh on a great many consumer discretionary stocks.
The potential for even higher interest rates will likely result in "pain" for consumers, according to Powell. Indeed, the average household is already making difficult decisions caused by higher costs for food and fuel. If the faltering economy further reduces consumer spending, it's conceivable that consumers will cut back on e-commerce purchases, forgo the purchase of a new car, or refuse to lay out hard-earned cash for competitive games of chance.
That said, for investors who are already sold on the prospects of Amazon, Carvana, and Skillz, the economic headwinds will eventually abate. That gives investors the opportunity to use temporary price slumps like these as an opportunity to get shares at a discount.