Markets plunge as worries grow over interest rates
Stocks closed sharply lower on Wall Street as worries grow in markets that the higher interest rates the Federal Reserve is using in its fight against inflation will slow the economy. (May 5)
NEW YORK — Stocks fell in afternoon trading on Wall Street as investors received another dire readout on inflation.
The S&P 500 fell 1.5% as of 2:31 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 462 points, or 1.5%, to 31,368 and the Nasdaq fell 1.6%.
Technology stocks were among the biggest weights on the broader market. Apple fell 4% and chipmaker Nvidia fell 5.3%. The tech sector made solid gains during the pandemic amid a broad shift to working and shopping from home, but it has seen sharp declines as inflation worsens and interest rates head higher.
“The pullback in growth stocks, tech in particular, has been dramatic,” said Brian Price, head of investment management at Commonwealth Financial Network. “We have a reckoning, if you will, that maybe we did go too far too fast” with many of those stocks.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.84% from 2.92%.
Major indexes are all in the red for the week as investors worry about rising inflation, rising interest rates and their impact on the economy.
More inflation worries
The Labor Department on Thursday reported that wholesale prices soared 11% in April from a year earlier. Many of the costs at the wholesale level are being passed on to consumers as companies try to cover higher expenses. That has raised more concerns about a potential pullback in spending that could crimp economic growth.
Inflation pressure has been building for consumers. On Wednesday, the Labor Department’s report on consumer prices came in hotter than Wall Street expected. It also also showed a bigger increase than expected in prices outside food and gasoline, something economists call “core inflation” and which can be more predictive of future trends.
Rising inflation has prompted the Federal Reserve to pull its benchmark short-term interest rate off its record low near zero, where it spent most of the pandemic. It also said it may continue to raise rates by double the usual amount at upcoming meetings. Investors are concerned that the central bank could cause a recession if it raises rates too high or too quickly.
Inflation has been worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the conflicts impact on rising energy prices. China’s recent lockdowns amid concerns about a COVID-19 resurgence have also worsened supply chain and production problems at the center of rising inflation.
The impact of higher prices for consumers has been global. On Thursday, Britain said its economy grew at the slowest pace in a year during the first quarter. That is raising fears that the country may be headed for a recession.
The latest round of corporate earnings are also being closely watched by investors as they assess how companies and industries are handling the pressure from inflation. Entertainment giant Disney fell 2.6% after missing analysts’ forecasts in its latest earnings report. Coach and Kate Spade owner Tapestry jumped 14.6% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500 after reporting strong financial results.
“We’ll continue to pay attention to what the Fed has to say, but it’s worthwhile to pay attention to company outlooks on earnings calls,” Price said. “That’s something that investors will focus more and more on as we go into the second half of the year, how durable are company earnings.”