Stocks Post Another Loss As Markets Worry About Higher Rates

FILE - Pedestrians walk past the New York Stock Exchange on July 8, 2022, in New York. Stocks are opening slightly higher on Wall Street, Tuesday, Aug. 30, following two days of slumps as investors worry that high interest rates aren't going away any time soon as the Federal Reserve fights inflation. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Stocks fell again on Wall Street, posting their third loss in a row as traders worry that high interest rates are here to stay for a while. The S&P 500 fell 1.1% Tuesday, bringing its loss in the past three days to 5.1%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq also fell. Energy companies fell along with sliding crude oil prices. Technology stocks and industrial companies were also weak. Best Buy was a bright spot, gaining ground after reporting results for its latest quarter that were much better than analysts were expecting. The yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Stocks are down on Wall Street in afternoon trading Tuesday, extending the market’s late August skid on investor worries that high interest rates aren’t going away any time soon as the Federal Reserve fights inflation.

The S&P 500 fell 0.9% as of 3:24 p.m. Eastern. The benchmark index is on pace to close lower for the third straight day and is down 3.3% for the month with one full trading day left in August.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 233 points, or 0.7%, to 31,861 and the Nasdaq fell 1%.

Smaller company stocks also fell, pushing the Russell 2000 1.4% lower.

Markets have been weaker since Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated Friday that the central bank will stick to its strategy of raising interest rates to try and tame the hottest inflation in four decades.

The latest wave of selling reflects a “hangover” from Powell’s speech last week and uncertainty ahead of the Labor Department’s monthly employment report on Friday, said Megan Horneman, chief investment officer at Verdence Capital Advisors.

Markets are trying to get a better sense of “how far, how fast the Fed’s going to have to go” in slowing down the economy in order to fight inflation, she said.

A strong report on the job market Tuesday morning further diminished any hopes that the Fed would be able to ease up on its inflation-fighting policy. The higher rates the Fed is imposing are meant to keep inflation in check by slowing down the economy, including the pace of hiring.

The government reported that there were were 11.2 million open jobs on the last day of July. That’s near two jobs for every unemployed person, on average. That number was up from 11 million in June, and June’s figure was also revised sharply higher.

“Employers will have to increase their incentives to fill jobs, which could be inflationary,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. “We’re not seeing numbers that are consistently offering encouragement.”

Wall Street is worried that the Fed could hit the brakes too hard on an already slowing economy and veer it into a recession. Higher interest rates also hurt investment prices, especially for pricier stocks.

The central bank has already raised interest rates four times this year and is expected to raise short-term rates by another 0.75 percentage points at its next meeting in September, according to CME Group.

Major indexes had gained ground in July and into early August on hopes that weaker economic data would prompt the Fed to ease up on its high-interest rate policy. Those gains followed a weak first half of the year where the S&P 500 dropped 20% from its most recent high and entered a bear market.

Investors have been closely watching economic data for any additional signs that the economy is slowing down or that inflation may be cooling or at least holding at its current level. Businesses and consumers have been hit hard by rising prices on everything from food to clothing, but recent declines in gasoline prices have provided some relief.

Consumers regained some confidence in August, according to a survey from The Conference Board. Its consumer confidence index rose this month after three straight monthly declines. It also rose well above what economists expected.

Technology stocks were a big weight on the market. Chipmaker Nvidia fell 2.4%. Energy stocks fell along with U.S. crude oil prices, which dropped 5.5% to settle at $91.64 a barrel. Chevron dropped 2.4%.

While the price of U.S. crude is up more than 43% this year, it has fallen nearly 5% this month.

“The biggest challenge with oil is the fact that the Fed has basically said they’re going to produce economic pain to try and bring down inflation, and typically when you have an economic slowdown or recession you’re going to get energy prices that will fall,” Horneman said.

Best Buy was a bright spot, gaining 2.8% after reporting results for its latest quarter that were much better than analysts were expecting.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury held steady at 3.11%.

By DAMIAN J. TROISE and ALEX VEIGA - Aug 30. 2022 - 3:09 PM ET




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