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Wall Street“s slump continues as recession fears mount


U.S. stocks were poised for their third straight session of declines and second straight week of losses on Friday as fears grew that the Federal Reserve’s quest to stifle inflation would push the economy into a recession.

Equities have been under pressure since the U.S. central bank’s decision to raise interest rates by 50 basis points (bps), as expected. But comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s signaled more policy tightening, and the central bank projected that interest rates would top the 5% mark in 2023, a level not seen since 2007.

Further comments from other Fed officials fueled the concern. New York Fed President John Williams said on Friday it remains possible the U.S. central bank will raise rates more than it expects next year. The policymaker added that he does not anticipate a recession due to the Fed’s aggressive tightening.

In addition, San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President Mary Daly said it is “reasonable” to believe that once the Fed’s policy rates reached their peak, they could stay there into 2024.

“The market yet again, it kind of seems like deja vu, seems to have gotten a bit ahead of itself as to how and when the Federal Reserve will become more dovish and start speaking in terms that makes the market understand when it is becoming less restrictive,” said Keith Buchanan, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments in Atlanta.

“The market has now become more fearful that if policy stays as restrictive as it is or can become toward the middle of next year, there are just fears that a policy mistake is more likely.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) fell 462.36 points, or 1.39%, to 32,739.86, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 59.39 points, or 1.52%, to 3,836.36 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 143.51 points, or 1.33%, to 10,667.02.

Money market bets show at least two 25 bps rate hikes next year and a terminal rate of about 4.8% by midyear, before falling to around 4.4% by the end of 2023.

On the economic front, a report showed U.S. business activity contracted further in December as new orders slumped to their lowest level in just over 2-1/2 years, although easing demand helped cool inflation.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq on Thursday closed below its 50-day moving average, a key technical level seen as sign of momentum. The benchmark S&P 500 looked set to close below its own 50-day moving average for the first time since Nov. 9.

The prospects of a “Santa Claus rally”, or year-end uptick, in markets this year have dimmed, as the majority of global central banks have adopted tightening policies. The Bank of England and the European Central Bank were the most recent to indicate an extended rate-hike cycle on Thursday.

The simultaneous expiration of stock options, stock index futures and index options contracts later in the day, known as triple witching, could cause volatility through the trading session.

All the 11 major S&P 500 sector indexes were in the red, led lower by a drop of nearly 4% in real estate stocks (.SPLRCR).

Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) advanced 3.37% after J.P. Morgan upgraded the stock to “overweight” from “neutral,” while Adobe Inc (ADBE.O) gained 3.08% after the Photoshop maker forecast first-quarter profit above expectations.

Exact Sciences Corp (EXAS.O) surged 18.72% after rival Guardant Health Inc’s (GH.O) cancer test missed expectations, while General Motors Co (GM.N) lost 3.87% after its robotaxi unit Cruise faced a safety probe by U.S. auto safety regulators.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 3.70-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.37-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and 17 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 34 new highs and 316 new lows.

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