NEW YORK (AP) — A global swoon for financial markets is reverberating on Wall Street, and stocks are falling again this morning.
The S&P 500 was down 0.8% in early trading, a day after falling 1.1% as the US government neared a potentially disastrous default on its debt. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 222 points, or 0.7%, at 32,832 as of 10:10 a.m. EST, while the Nasdaq composite was 0.8% lower.
Other markets around the world have been hit even harder by the accumulation of disheartening economic numbers. Stock indices fell 2.2% in London, 2.1% in Frankfurt and 1.6% in Hong Kong.
Inflation in the UK remains worse than expected, raising fears that the Bank of England will continue to raise interest rates and squeeze its economy. In Germany, business confidence has plummeted in Europe’s largest economy. And in China, concerns remain about a weaker-than-expected reopening of COVID restrictions as tensions rise with the United States over technology and security.
On Wall Street, the focus is on Capitol Hill and the White House, where the latest battle between Democrats and Republicans threatens to cause the nation’s first-ever default. The U.S. government could run out of cash to pay its bills as early as June 1 unless Congress allows it to borrow more, and a default is widely expected to cause huge hardship. economic.
The stock market has mostly remained resilient despite concerns. The fear was concentrated mainly in the corners of the bond market, where prices fell for Treasuries due to a payment around the possible date of default.
This is largely because the widespread belief on Wall Street was that Congress would strike a deal at the 11th hour, as it has many times before, because a default would benefit no one. But fear is mounting that Congress will not feel the urgency to act unless markets fall enough to force politicians’ hand.
A measure of fear among stock investors on Wall Street has climbed 9.9% and is near its highest level since March. That’s when concerns erupted about the soundness of the banking system, which was creaking under the weight of much higher interest rates.
Rates are so high because the Federal Reserve has raised them at the fastest pace in decades in hopes of tackling high inflation. High rates do this by dampening the overall economy and hurting the prices of stocks, bonds and other investments.
Traders hope there will be just one more hike this summer, if at all. The Fed could offer more clues about its intentions after releasing minutes from its latest policy meeting in the afternoon.
Several companies helped limit losses on Wall Street and announced stronger results for the start of the year than analysts expected.
Kohl’s jumped 8.8% after reporting surprise earnings for its latest quarter, helped in part by momentum from its Sephora beauty stores. Analysts expected it to turn into a loss.
Resilient spending by US consumers has helped keep the economy out of a recession even as manufacturing and other sectors grapple with higher interest rates. With the labor market remaining strong, Goldman Sachs economists said they expect consumer spending to remain a source of strength for the economy throughout this year.
Homebuilder Toll Brothers rose 1.6% after reporting much better results than analysts expected for the last quarter.
Most companies beat expectations for the first quarter of the year, but largely because analysts set the bar particularly low. S&P 500 companies are still on track to report a second consecutive quarter of weaker earnings from year-ago levels.
This has prompted Wall Street to focus more on what companies are saying about their future prospects than how they have performed in recent months.
Agilent Technologies fell 11.3% for the S&P 500’s biggest loss despite reporting higher-than-expected last-quarter earnings and revenue from analysts. He cut his profit and sales forecast for the full year and said the market had become increasingly difficult.
Analog Devices was close behind, falling 8.4% despite stronger-than-expected earnings and revenue for the latest quarter. He gave a profit forecast for the current quarter that fell short of analysts’ expectations.
Also on the losing side, Intuit fell 7.5%. The company behind TurboTax reported weaker-than-expected revenue for the last quarter.
In the bond market, the 10-year Treasury yield fell to 3.69% from 3.70% on Tuesday evening. It helps set the rates for mortgages and other large loans.
The two-year Treasury yield, which moves more on expectations of Fed action, fell to 4.30% from 4.33%.
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