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US stocks fell Friday morning, extending this week’s losses and kicking off the first session of July with more selling.
The S&P 500 edged lower just after market open, falling by less than 0.1%. The Dow and Nasdaq each also opened slightly in the red. West Texas intermediate crude oil futures rose back above $108 per barrel after logging the first monthly decline since November 2021 in June. And the 10-year Treasury yield held below 3% to hover near its lowest level in about three weeks.
Markets are limping into July and the second half of the year amid widespread concerns over whether the economy can remain resilient in the face of inflation and the Federal Reserve’s aggressive response to inflation. The S&P 500 closed out its worst first half of the year since 1970 on Thursday, sliding more than 20% so far in 2022. The Dow’s 15.3% decline so far this year marked its worst first half since 1962, and the Nasdaq Composite’s 29.5% plunge represented its worst first half on record.
The backdrop has remained challenging, with signs of a slowdown in US growth mounting in both the economic data and in company results and anecdotes. And Federal Reserve officials have so far telegraphed they would allow the economy to continue softening to a degree if it meant achieving their current primary goal bringing down inflation.
Semiconductor bellwether Micron Technology on Thursday offered a current-quarter sales forecast that came in far below Wall Street’s estimates, suggesting customers were pulling back on ordering memory chips widely used in computers and smartphones in anticipation of weakening demand among consumers. And just a day earlier, furniture company RH slashed its own revenue forecast, citing a “deteriorating macro environment.”
Inflation, especially for essentials like gas and food, has remained elevated, pressuring consumers’ propensity to spend. Real personal spending fell more than expected as of May, new data this week showed. But the full impact of inflation on corporate profits has likely not been fully reflected in earnings estimates to date, many strategists have argued, suggesting further volatility for equities. The next quarterly reporting season is set to pick up in the middle of July.
“Inflation right now is on the minds of everyone, whether it’s a consumer, corporation, and policy makers. But after that, it’s really earnings,” Ryan Nauman, Zephyr market strategist, told Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday. “So far, earnings estimates … haven’t come down at all.”
The next catalyst for markets “could be earnings, once we start getting some earnings downgrades, which are expected,” he added. “Right now, a recession isn’t priced into a future earnings. And I think that’s going to happen. We could see some pickup in volatility or some more sell-offs once we start getting into earnings season and to more downgrades.”
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