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S&P 500 hits record lows for four consecutive days

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Relevance up to 08:00 2022-01-11 UTC+00

US stocks fell on Friday as investors gauged the latest US employment report for clues about the strength of the economy and the next steps in Fed policy.

The S&P 500 traded below daily lows even though gains in financial and energy stocks helped counter the decline in mega-caps. The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 also dipped for the fourth day as investors feared that the Fed would be forced to raise rates faster than expected. After all, employment data for December showed fewer employees than expected, while wages rose more than forecast. Bloomberg said there is an 88% chance that rates will hike this coming March.

“Overall, this print had mixed messaging,” said Anu Gaggar, investment strategist at Commonwealth Financial Network. “But the combination of the decline in unemployment rate to below Fed’s long-term equilibrium level and acceleration in wage growth brings the Fed’s March meeting in play for the first-rate hike of this cycle,” he added.

While fast-growing tech companies took the brunt of this week’s sell-off, value stocks increased as hedge funds loaded those stocks, thereby prompting the sharpest stock rotation since March.

Treasury yields rose across the board, with the five-year rate rising to pre-pandemic levels, topping 1.50%. The two-year rate climbed to 0.89%, the largest weekly jump since October 2019.

The overtly hawkish stance of the Fed shook the financial markets because it made investors redefine the value of assets amid expected strong economic growth and higher interest rates. This marks a shift that has not been seen for at least three years, a time when volatility also spiked and led to a major drop in stocks.

Comments from regional Fed presidents provided additional information this week as traders tried to predict a possible tightening schedule. San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly said she is in favor of a gradual increase in interest rates and a move to cut the Fed’s balance sheet faster than in the last round of tightening. Meanwhile, James Bullard, a more hawkish politician, said the central bank could raise rates as early as March.

*The market analysis posted here is meant to increase your awareness, but not to give instructions to make a trade.

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Equity Markets Start Week Slowly, US Inflation Looms

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