The S&P 500 started the last trading day of April in the red, putting it on track for its worst four-month start to a year in more than half a century.
In afternoon trading Friday, the
swooned 2.9% and 3.3%, respectively. Both indexes rallied more than 2.5% on Thursday. The
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down nearly 700 points, or 2.1%, after climbing 614 points on Thursday.
The S&P 500 has fallen almost 13% so far this year and is on track for its worst January to April performance since World War II. The Nasdaq was trading in a bear market, down more than 20% from the all-time high of 16,057, hit on Nov. 19. The tech-heavy index is on track for its worst first four months on record, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
Earnings results from
(ticker: AMZN) and
(AAPL) are weighing on the Nasdaq. The two company’s combined market capitalizations as of Thursday’s close was $4.14 trillion, about 20% of the Nasdaq’s aggregate market cap.
Amazon’s profit missed estimates by nearly one dollar a share because of higher labor and shipping costs in the quarter. The company also gave weak sales guidance for the current quarter. The stock was down 15%.
Apple’s profit and sales of $97.3 billion exceeded estimates, but the company said supply constraints in China resulting from the country’s Covid-related lockdown could reduce second-quarter sales by between $4 billion to $8 billion. The stock was down 2.4%.
While the Nasdaq was getting hit the hardest Friday, stocks across the board were lower. That isn’t a surprise. There have been dozens of 2% daily gains in the S&P 500 since 2018, and the next day only saw the index gain just a third of the time, according to Instinet.
The larger concern for stocks: The Federal Reserve is expected to aggressively lift interest rates to stave off high inflation, a move that will likely slow down economic growth, and reduce its bond holdings, which has lowered bond prices and lifted their yields. That makes future profits for companies worth less today, thus weighing on stock valuations.
Inflation—the impetus for all of this—has only worsened with the Russia-Ukraine war. That has prompted Western nations to block off Russian commodities from the global market, putting even more strain on consumers and corporate profit margins. Lockdowns in China are also blocking off global access to supplies coming out of the nation.
Indeed, the personal consumption expenditures index, the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, gained 6.6% year over year in March, according to the Commerce Department on Friday. Investors had been hoping that inflation would have peaked, but that rate is higher than the 6.4% gain in prices seen for February.
“With global markets down double-digits this year, and daily headlines that include worsening China lockdowns, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, a global economic growth slowdown, multi-decade highs in inflation, and the Federal Reserve on the move, it’s little wonder why investors’ mood remains dour,” wrote Keith Lerner, co-chief investment officer at Truist.
There is good news, though. The core PCE result, which does not account for volatile—and recently soaring—energy and food prices, gained just 5.2% in March. That’s below the previous result of 5.3%. It means prices across the board are rising at a slower pace.
That could conceivably ease the pressure on the Fed to hike interest rates aggressively, which investors would welcome. The Fed will announce its interest-rate decision next week.
The bond markets appeared relatively calm. The 2-year Treasury yield, which reflects market expectations for the benchmark lending rate a couple of years from the present, was down to 2.69% from around 2.7% before the PCE report came.
The mild rise in the yield isn’t much of a surprise. Yields have already reflected the Fed’s intention to lift rates. The 2-year Treasury yield, on pace to close Friday at just under its pandemic-era high, is up several times from a level just over 0.1% in January of 2021. The yield has now seen its largest 15-calendar month gain since the same stretch ended in January 1995, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
Here are six stocks on the move Friday:
(TSLA) was up 0.8% after CEO Elon Musk said via Twitter that he had no further plans to sell Tesla stock after Friday. The billionaire executive recently sold some $4 billion worth of the company’s shares, presumably to help fund his takeover of social-media group
(CVX) stock was down 3.1% after the company reported a profit of $3.36 a share, missing the FactSet consensus estimate of $3.41 a share, on sales of $54.4 billion, below expectations for $47.9 billion.