US stocks end lower after choppy trading from rising recession worries

WALL Street’s main indexes ended broadly lower on Wednesday after a choppy session where investors struggled to grasp a clear direction as they weighed how the US Federal Reserve’s monetary policy tightening might feed through into corporate America.

The benchmark S&P 500 fell for the fifth straight session, while the Nasdaq finished down for the fourth time in a row.

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 lost 7.34 points or 0.10%, to end at 3,933.92 points, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 56.34 points or 0.51%, to 10,958.55. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat at 33,597.92 (up a mere 1.58 points).

The Nasdaq was dragged down by a drop in Apple Inc on Morgan Stanley’s iPhone shipment target cut and a fall in Tesla Inc over production loss worries.

Markets have also been rattled by downbeat comments from top executives at Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America Corp on Tuesday that a mild to more pronounced recession was likely ahead.

Fears that the US central bank might stick to a longer rate-hike cycle have intensified recently in the wake of strong jobs and service-sector reports.

More economic data, including weekly jobless claims, producer price index and the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment survey this week will be on the watch list for clues on what to expect from the Fed on Dec 14.

“It feels like we’re in this very uncertain period where investors are trying to ascertain what’s more important, as policymakers are slowing down on rates but the data is not playing ball,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA.

“The market is trying to balance the headwinds and the tailwinds and this is causing some confusion.”

The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, rose to a two-week high before slipping back slightly.

Money market participants see a 91% chance that the Fed will increase its key benchmark rate by 50 basis points in December to 4.25%-4.50% with rates peaking in May 2023 at 4.93%.

Concerns about a steep rise in borrowing costs have boosted the greenback but dented demand for risk assets such as equities this year. The S&P 500 is on track to snap a three-year winning streak.

Few of the 11 major S&P sector indexes were higher, with healthcare one of them. Technology and communication services were among the worst performers.

Energy fell for its fifth straight session. The sector’s performance was weighed by US crude prices falling again, settling at the lowest level in 2022, as concerns over the outlook for global growth wiped out all of the gains since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbated the worst global energy supply crisis in decades.

Travel-related stocks were generally down. Delta Air Lines and American Airlines Group were lower as were cruise line operators Carnival Corp and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and accommodation-linked Airbnb Inc and Booking Holdings. – Dec 8, 2022

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