NEW YORK — Stocks tumble again on Friday as the recent spike in interest rates continues to weigh on Wall Street. Some disappointing corporate earnings reports also rattled what had been the market’s main support.
The S&P 500 was down 1.8% at noon and on track to close a third consecutive week of losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 605 points, or 1.7%, at 34,187 as of 12:05 a.m. EST, and the Nasdaq composite was down 1.5%.
A day earlier, Wall Street appeared poised for healthy gains for the week after American Airlines, Tesla and other big companies reported strong earnings or better future earnings forecasts than analysts expected. . Such corporate optimism has helped stocks remain relatively resilient, even as worries swirl about the highest inflation in decades, the war in Ukraine and the coronavirus.
But markets caved when the Federal Reserve Chairman indicated that the central bank could indeed raise short-term interest rates by double the usual amount in upcoming meetings, starting in two weeks.
The Fed has already raised its key overnight rate once, the first such increase since 2018, as it aggressively cuts the huge aid provided to the economy during the pandemic. He is also preparing other measures to put upward pressure on longer-term rates.
By making borrowing more expensive for businesses and households, the higher rates are meant to slow the economy, which should hopefully halt the worst inflation in generations. But they can also trigger a recession, while putting downward pressure on most types of investments.
A preliminary report on Friday said growth in the U.S. services industry was slowing more than expected, hurt in particular by soaring fuel costs, wages and other expenses.
Treasury yields have soared as investors brace for a more aggressive Fed, and stocks have often moved in the opposite direction. The 10-year Treasury yield is at 2.89%, up from 2.91% on Thursday night, but still close to its highest level since 2018. It started the year at 1.51%.
The two-year Treasury yield, which moves more in line with expectations of Fed action on short-term rates, rose further. It is at 2.71%, compared to 2.68% on Thursday evening, and has more than tripled compared to 0.73% at the start of the year.
Markets around the world are feeling similar pressure on rates and inflation, especially in Europe as the war in Ukraine drives up oil, gas and food prices.
The German DAX lost 2.5% on Friday, while the French CAC 40 fell 2%. The FTSE 100 in London fell 1.4%.
Beyond developments in Ukraine, a run-off presidential election in France this weekend could also swing markets.
In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.6% and South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.9%. Shares in Shanghai rose 0.2% after authorities promised to ease virus checks on truck drivers who obstruct food supply and trade.
On Wall Street, most stocks were falling, with health care companies among the largest weights.
HCA Healthcare fell 18% after reporting weaker-than-expected earnings per share. The hospital operator also cut its revenue and profit forecasts this year.
Verizon Communications fell 6.2% after saying it expected earnings for the year to be at the lower end of the range it had previously forecast. The company also reported slightly weaker than expected revenue for the first three months of the year.
Retailer Gap fell 17.8% after it cut its sales forecast and said the CEO of its Old Navy business would leave the business.
The general trend on Wall Street, however, has been more optimistic. The majority of companies have exceeded analysts’ expectations so far this earnings season, around a fifth of the way.
Kimberly-Clark, the maker whose brands include Huggies and Kleenex diapers, rose 9.3% to one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after reporting higher earnings and revenue for the last quarter than the analysts had predicted.
SVB Financial Group jumped 10.3% after also reporting higher-than-expected earnings per share. Silicon Valley Bank’s parent company raised its revenue forecast this year, in part due to rising interest rates and strong demand for loans from tech and other customers.
AP Business Writer Yuri Kageyama contributed.