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US stocks fell Wednesday morning, extending Tuesday’s losses as investors remained focused on mounting signs of a slowdown in US economic growth.
The S&P 500 traded lower shortly after market open, following a 2% slide in the index a day earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged lower, while the Nasdaq Composite underperformed as technology stocks remained under pressure.
Bitcoin also fell, and prices briefly fell below $20,000. West Texas intermediate crude oil futures rose above $112 per barrel for the first time in two weeks, while the 10-year Treasury yield dropped below 3.2%.
The latest bout of volatility across markets came amid renewed jitters over inflation’s impact on growth prospects in the US economy. On Wednesday, first-quarter US GDP was revised down to show a 1.6% annualized contraction, as personal consumption came in weaker than previously reported. And a separate report earlier this week showed a slide in US consumer confidence to a 16-month low and a deterioration in short-term expectations to a 9-year low, raising concerns that consumers will curb spending in anticipation of persistently high prices.
Given these and other recent reports, some Federal Reserve officials have flagged the risk that inflation expectations will become entrenched among consumers, making the case for the central bank to maintain its hawkish posture for now.
“The fact that the salient prices of gasoline and food remain elevated suggests that there is some risk that longer-term inflation expectations of households and businesses will continue to rise,” Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester said in remarks Wednesday.
She suggested she would back another 75 basis point interest rate hike in July if economic conditions look similar through the Fed’s meeting next month, echoing the support of other officials as of late for such a hike. Markets are currently pricing in a more than 80% probability that a 75 basis point rate hike will ultimately occur in July, according to CME Group data.
These expectations for a series of larger-than-typical rate hikes have remained a point of pressure for technology stocks especially, which are valued heavily on prospects for future earnings growth. The Nasdaq Composite remains firmly in a bear market, down 28.5% for the year-to-date, and both the tech-heavy information technology and communication services sectors within the S&P 500 have lagged the broader index.
“Inflation fears remain, and the Fed is gonna have to step in more aggressively and drive up interest rates further, and that’s very, very bad for tech stocks,” Opimas CEO Octavio Marenzi told Yahoo Finance Live on Tuesday. “The Fed is not finished with its interest rate hikes by any stretch of the imagination … I’m not expecting any turnaround anytime soon here. I think this is a down market that’s got some legs.”
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