The Business Times

US: Wall Street ends up but still down on week as volatility rules

Published Sat, Jun 18, 2022 · 05:43 AM

US STOCKS closed with a modest bounce on Friday (Jun 17) but still suffered the biggest weekly percentage decline in 2 years as investors wrestled with the growing likelihood of a recession while global central banks tried to stamp out inflation.

Stubbornly high inflation has unnerved investors this year as the US Federal Reserve and most major central banks have begun to pivot from easy monetary policies to tightening measures which will slow the economy, possibly causing a recession, and potentially dent corporate earnings.

Each of the 3 major Wall Street indexes fell the third week in a row. The benchmark S&P 500 index suffered its biggest weekly percentage drop since March 2020, the height of the Covid-19 pandemic plunge.

“Right now you are going to see a lot of volatility and it is primarily going to be because of the fact the Fed is going to be front-end loading all these rates hikes and just trying to gauge the inflation picture and it is very clouded right now,” said Megan Horneman, director of portfolio strategy at Verdence Capital Advisors in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

“Just expect volatility, it is here to stay, it is going to be here until we get a little bit more clarity on have we really reached peak inflation.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 38.29 points or 0.13 per cent to 29,888.78, the S&P 500 gained 8.07 points or 0.22 per cent to 3,674.84 and the Nasdaq Composite added 152.25 points or 1.43 per cent to 10,798.35.

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For the week, the Dow lost 4.79 per cent, its biggest weekly percentage drop since October 2020, the S&P 500 lost 5.79 per cent and the Nasdaq slid 4.78 per cent.

The benchmark S&P index has slumped about 23 per cent year-to-date and recently confirmed a bear market began on Jan 3. The Dow Industrials was on the cusp of confirming its own bear market.

Stocks rallied on Wednesday after the Fed raised its key rate by 75 basis points, the biggest hike in nearly 3 decades, while the Bank of England and the Swiss National Bank also raised borrowing costs.

On Friday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell once again stressed the central bank’s focus on bringing back inflation to its 2 per cent target while speaking at a conference.

Economic data on Friday showed production at US factories fell unexpectedly in the latest indication economic activity was on the wane.

Gains were led by the communication services and consumer discretionary sectors, which rose 1.31 per cent and up 1.22 per cent, respectively, on the session. The 2 have been among the worst performing of the 11 major groups on the year.

In contrast, energy, the year’s best performing sector, fell with a 5.57 per cent tumble and suffered its biggest weekly percentage drop since March 2020, on concerns a slowing global economy could sap demand for crude oil.

Also contributing to choppy trading was the expiration of monthly and quarterly options contracts ahead of the Juneteenth market holiday on Monday.

Volume on US exchanges was 17.99 billion shares, compared with the 12.42 billion session average over the last 20 trading days.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners ones on the New York Stock Exchange by a 1.37-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.92-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 1 new 52-week high and 57 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 11 new highs and 259 new lows. REUTERS

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