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Expand chart
Data: Sentieo; Note: Chart also includes mentions of “inflationary,” “supply chains” and “variants;” Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

“Supply chain,” “inflation” and “variant” were among the new top words mentioned at least once on Wall Street calls this year, according to an analysis of transcripts by Sentieo, a research firm.

Why it matters: All the chatter about bottlenecks, rising prices and variant spread that led to more factory shutdowns is another sign of just how big of a headache it was for corporate America (and consumers) this year.

  • “The Fed was saying inflation was transitory — yet looking at what companies said on earnings calls, that was an indicator that it wasn’t,” says Erick Mokaya, author of “The Transcript,” a newsletter focused on earnings calls.

The latest: Nike executives last night went for the triple whammy. They mentioned the tangled supply chain, rising costs and variants during an earnings call — a sign that these terms may stay hot in 2022, as executives are pushed for updates on how or if they're impacting business.

In case you were curious, the instances of executives and analysts fumbling over the “unmute” button on earnings calls are small — but edging up.

  • Among S&P 500 firms, there were 72 transcripts where “you’re on mute” was mentioned at least once — slightly higher than last year’s 63, according to FactSet.

Go deeper

Retail sales slipped a surprising 1.9% in December

Shoppers in San Francisco on Dec. 22. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Retail sales fell 1.9% in December compared to the previous month, suggesting that shoppers bought holiday gifts earlier last year as they faced rising inflation and supply chain issues.

Driving the news: The data is much lower than the 0% change predicted by economists, according to FactSet.

1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.