Dow drops more than 500 points as S&P 500, Nasdaq head for worst month since March 2020

Dow drops more than 700 points as S&P 500, Nasdaq head for worst month since March 2020

U.S. stocks were trading sharply lower Friday afternoon, as investors weighed fresh inflation data while technology-related stocks suffered after disappointing results from Inc. and a warning on rising costs from Apple Inc.

How are stock indexes performing?
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average
    fell 749 points, or 2.2%, to about 33,167.
  • The S&P 500
    dropped 132 points, or 3.1%, to 4,155.
  • The Nasdaq Composite
    shed 460 points, or 3.6%, to about 12,411.

On Thursday, the Dow rose 614.46 points, or 1.9%, while the S&P 500 gained 2.5% and the Nasdaq Composite jumped 3.1%. The Dow and S&P 500 marked their best daily percentage climbs since March 9, while the Nasdaq saw its best day since March 16, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

For the week, the Dow is on pace to fall 2%, while the S&P 500 is heading for a 2.8% decline and the tech-laden Nasdaq is on track to drop 3.3%, FactSet data show, at last check.

What’s driving markets?

U.S. stocks fell sharply Friday, with technology shares weighing on indexes.

“Tech is having a tough day,” with tumbling shares of e-commerce giant dragging down stock benchmarks, said Michael Reynolds, vice president of investment strategy at wealth manager Glenmede, in a phone interview Friday.

Shares of Amazon AMZN were down more than 14% Friday afternoon, after reporting its first loss in seven years. The company’s slide made it the biggest loser in the S&P 500 index in afternoon trading, according to FactSet data, at last check.

All 11 sectors of the S&P 500 were declining, with consumer discretionary
real estate
and information technology
showing the biggest losses, FactSet data show. Shares of Apple Inc.
fell 3% after the tech giant topped earnings and set a revenue record, but warned of billions in added costs from supply-chain woes.

Friday marks the last trading day of April, which is heading toward being the worst month for the S&P 500 — down 5.3% through Thursday — since March 2020. The Nasdaq was already down 9.4% through Thursday and is also facing its worst monthly return since that pandemic low, according to FactSet.

The month has been consumed by worries on several fronts, including economic growth in China where COVID-19 cases are forcing lockdowns in several cities as well as supply chain disruptions caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“There’s a lot for the market to be grappling with right now,” said Reynolds.

The CBOE Volatility Index
was trading around 33 on Friday afternoon, well above the 200-day moving average of about 21.5, according to FactSet data.

“The petrified tail-chasing we have seen this week as equity markets swing from ‘we’re all doomed, get me out,’ to ‘I don’t want to miss the absolute bottom of the stock market, get me in’ is perhaps indicative of the state of confusion out there,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda, told clients in a note.

On the heels of Thursday’s weak U.S. first-quarter economic growth data, the Federal Reserve’s favored inflation gauge — the core personal consumer expenditure price index for March —rose 0.3% with the headline index up 0.9%.

The headline rate of inflation climbed 6.6% over the 12 months through March, up from 6.4% in February, for the steepest increase since 1981, as measured by the PCE price index. But the rate of core inflation over the past 12 months slipped to 5.2%, from 5.3%, marking the first month-to-month decline in more than a year.

“The slowdown in year-over-year core PCE inflation is really nice to see. Inflation may have peaked in March, although the evidence is still a little ambiguous,” said Bill Adams, chief economist for Comerica Bank, in a note.

See: U.S. inflation rate surges to 6.6% based on PCE index — but there’s a silver lining

Adding to inflation worries, U.S. employment cost index accelerated in the first quarter to 1.4%, from 1.0% in the final three months of 2021, according to data released by the Labor Department Friday.

Meanwhile, the University of Michigan’s final reading of U.S. consumer sentiment in April slipped to 65.2 from an initial reading of 65.7, but still marked the first rise so far this year.

Friday’s economic data comes ahead of next week’s two-day Federal Reserve meeting, which many expect will conclude with a 50 basis-point interest-rate increase.

See: Fed’s half-percentage-point interest rate hike next week seen baked in the cake

Also, billionaire investor Warren Buffett and his right-hand man Charlie Munger will be in the spotlight Saturday as investors return to Omaha for Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s

annual meeting. The event, dubbed “Woodstock for Capitalists,” had been held virtually the last two years due to COVID-19.

Don’t miss: 6 things to watch as Warren Buffett hosts ‘Woodstock for Capitalists’ on Saturday

Which companies are in focus?
  • Intel Corp.
    shares fell 6.2%, after the chip maker stuck to its full-year outlook amid expected weakness this quarter.
  • Roku Inc.
    shares rose 2.7%, after the maker of digital media reported forecast-beating fiscal first-quarter revenue and earnings largely in line with projections. 
  • Robinhood Markets Inc. shares
    fell 1.8% after the brokerage missed first-quarter forecasts and said fewer people were trading on its online platform.
  • Tesla Inc. shares
    rose 0.7%. CEO Elon Musk tweeted late Thursday that he has no plans to sell more stock, after a Securities and Exchange Commission filing showed he sold nearly $4 billion in stock of the electric car maker amid his $44 billion deal for Twitter.
  • Colgate-Palmolive Co.
    shares dropped 4.3% after the consumer goods maker said a tough cost environment to continued to weigh on profit.
  • Chevron Corp. CVX shares fell 2.8% after revenues surged past expectations on a rise in oil and gas prices, but a rise in profit came in short of expectations. Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM missed profit estimates for the first quarter as it booked a $3.4 billion charge relating to its planned exit from Russia’s Sakhalin-1 project. Exxon shares slid 2.4%.
  • Honeywell International Inc. HON shares gained 2.7% after profit and revenue topped expectations and the aerospace and building products company lifted its outlook.
  • AbbVie Inc. ABBV shares dropped 7.5% after the drug maker’s revenues came in short of Wall Street expectations. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. BMY told investors to expect less revenue from its cancer drug Revlimid and lower adjusted earnings per share for the full year in 2022. Shares were down 2%.
How are other assets faring?
  • The yield on the 10-year Treasury note 
    rose 2.3 basis points Friday to 2.885%, following the latest inflation data. Yields and debt prices move opposite each other. The 10-year yield climbed 56.1 basis points in April, the largest monthly gain since December 2009 based on 3 pm Eastern Times levels, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
  • The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, -0.67%, a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, was up about 0.7%.
  • Oil futures ended lower Friday, with West Texas Intermediate crude for June delivery
    falling 0.6% to settle at $104.69 a barrel. Still, the U.S. oil benchmark booked a 2.6% gain for the week and rose 4.4% for the month.
  • Gold for June delivery
    climbed 1.1% Friday to settle at $1,911.70 an ounce, but the yellow metal was down 1.2% for the week and fell 2.1% for the month.
  • Bitcoin 
    was down 3.8% at $38,396.
  • In European equities, the Stoxx Europe 600 
    closed 0.7% higher Friday, but remained down 0.6% for the week and dropped 1.2% in April. London’s FTSE 100 
    advanced 0.5% Friday for a weekly gain of 0.3% and a gain of 0.4% for the month.
  • The Shanghai Composite 
    closed 2.4% higher Friday but still fell 1.3% for the week and shed 6.3% in April. The Hang Seng Index 
    in Hong Kong jumped 4% Friday for a weekly gain of 2.2%, but booked a 4.1% drop in April. Japan’s Nikkei 225 
    was closed for a national holiday on Friday, but the index is down 0.9% for the week and dropped 3.5% this month.

—Barbara Kollmeyer contributed to this report.

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