Wall Street slips ahead of another Fed rate hike

Market


US stock markets dropped again today, extending last week’s rout as investors worry about another big rate hike by the Federal Reserve that they fear could drag down the global economy.

Wall Street opened lower, with the Dow dropping 0.35%. Five of the 11 S&P 500 sectors were down in early trading. Healthcare stocks fell 1.5%, weighed by a 5.5% drop in the shares of Moderna.

The energy sector tumbled 1% as oil prices declined, pressured by expectations of weaker global demand and by US dollar strength.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq logged their worst weekly percentage drop since June on Friday as markets fully priced in at least a 75-basis-point rise in rates during the week, with Fed funds futures showing a 21% chance of a whopping 100 bps increase.

“Traders are worried that they are going to hear more hawkish stance from central banks this week” which would “cut economic activity further,” AvaTrade analyst Naeem Aslam told AFP.

August inflation data

Unexpectedly hot August inflation data last week also raised bets on increased rate hikes down the road, with the terminal rate for US fed funds now at 4.48%.

“Markets are going to be looking for direction until the Fed meeting, there won’t be much trading action till then,” said Christopher Grisanti, chief equity strategist at MAI Capital Management in Cleveland.

The S&P 500 has lost 19% so far this year on worries of a central bank-induced recession amid recent warnings of slowing demand from delivery firm FedEx and an inverted U.S. Treasury yield curve.

“I think a recession is very likely. The Fed regards a recession as regrettable, but necessary to fight inflation,” Grisanti said.

The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, rose to 27 points, inching closer to a more than two-month high.

Focus will also be on new economic projections, due to be published alongside the policy statement at 2 pm ET (1800 GMT) on Wednesday.

Central banks raise interest rates to cool inflation, but higher borrowing costs also slow down economic activity.

Goldman Sachs cut its forecast for 2023 US GDP late on Friday as it projects a more aggressive Fed and sees that pushing the jobless rate higher than it previously expected.

“We think a 100 bps hike would unnerve Wall Street … and would increase the likelihood that the FOMC will eventually overtighten and lessen the possibility of achieving a soft landing,” Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA, wrote in a note.

At 9:48 am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 107.48 points, or 0.35%, at 30,714.94, the S&P 500 was down 13.16 points, or 0.34%, at 3,860.17, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 42.42 points, or 0.37%, at 11,405.99.

A rebound in industrial stocks after a sharp drop on Friday helped cap losses on the indexes.

Tech heavyweights Apple, Amazon.com, Alphabet and Microsoft fell between 0.3% and 0.6%.

Take-Two Interactive Software slid 2.3% following a report that a hacker had leaked the early footage of Grand Theft Auto VI, the next installment of the best-selling videogame.

Autozone rose 0.6% after the auto parts retailer posted upbeat quarterly sales and profit on steady demand and better inventory availability.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.69-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.90-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week high and 18 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 13 new highs and 178 new lows.

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