US stocks
Major Wall Street indexes were down on Thursday: Dow 0.35%, S&P 0.84%, Nasdaq 1.37%  Image Credit: Gulf News File


  • Tech stocks down in aftermath of Fed's latest rate move.
  • Investors concerned about possibility of recession.

New York: Major Wall Street indexes ended lower on Thursday, falling for a third straight session as investors reacted to the Federal Reserve's latest aggressive move to rein in inflation by selling growth stocks, including technology companies.

The Fed lifted rates by an expected 75 basis points on Wednesday and signaled a longer trajectory for policy rates than markets had priced in, fuelling fears of further volatility in stock and bond trading in a year that has already seen bear markets in both asset classes.

The U.S. central bank's projections for economic growth released on Wednesday were also eye-catching, with growth of just 0.2% this year, rising to 1.2% for 2023.

Jitters were already present in the market after a number of companies - most recently FedEx Corp and Ford Motor Co - issued dire outlooks for earnings.

As of Friday, the S&P 500's estimated earnings growth for the third quarter is at 5%, according to Refinitiv data.

Excluding the energy sector, the growth rate is at -1.7%.

The S&P 500's forward price-to-earnings ratio, a common metric for valuing stocks, is at 16.8 times earnings - far below the nearly 22 times forward P/E that stocks commanded at the start of the year.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors fell, led by declines of 2.2% and 1.7%, respectively, in consumer discretionary and financial stocks.

Shares of megacap technology and growth companies such as Inc, Tesla Inc and Nvidia Corp fell between 1% and 5.3% as benchmark U.S. Treasury yields hit an 11-year high.

Rising yields weigh particularly on valuations of companies in the technology sector, which have high expected future earnings and form a significant part of the market-cap weighted indexes such as the S&P 500.

The S&P 500 tech sector has slumped 28% so far this year, compared with a 21.2% decline in the benchmark index.

"If we continue to have sticky inflation, and if (Fed Chair Jerome) Powell sticks to his guns as he indicates, I think we enter recession and we see significant drawdown on earnings expectations," said Mike Mullaney, director of global markets at Boston Partners.

"If this happens, I have high conviction under those conditions that we break 3,636," he added, referring to the S&P 500's mid-June low, its weakest point of the year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 107.1 points, or 0.35%, to 30,076.68, the S&P 500 lost 31.94 points, or 0.84%, to 3,757.99 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 153.39 points, or 1.37%, to 11,066.81.

Major U.S. airlines - which have enjoyed a rebound amid increased travel as pandemic restrictions end - were also down, with United Airlines and American Airlines falling 4.6% and 3.9% respectively. This took losses in the last three days to 11% for United and 10.6% for American.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 11.39 billion shares, compared with the 10.91 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days. The S&P 500 posted one new 52-week high and 123 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 18 new highs and 699 new lows.

Canadian stocks down

Canada's main stock index fell to its lowest level in nearly two months on Thursday, weighed down by technology and healthcare stocks, as investors continued to fret over the pace of interest rate hikes by major central banks.

The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index ended down 181.86 points, or nearly 1%, at 19,002.68, its lowest closing level since July 26.

"Global equities are struggling as the world anticipates surging rates will trigger a much sooner and possibly severe global recession," Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA, said in a note.

Rate-sensitive technology stocks fell 2.8%, while healthcare stocks dropped 2.3%. US crude oil futures settled 0.7% higher at $83.49 a barrel in volatile trading focused on Russian supply concerns.

Still, the energy group fell 1.8%, while heavily weighted financials ended 0.7% lower.

Canadian retail sales data, due on Friday, could offer clues on the strength of the domestic economy, with money markets expecting the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates further next month.