S&P 500 Sinks 3% as Recession Fears Roil Trading: Markets Wrap

(Bloomberg) — Stocks tumbled around the globe as recession fears resurfaced, with the Federal Reserve struggling to get on top of inflation that has proved more persistent and widespread than officials anticipated.

The rally that followed the Fed’s decision fizzled out, with the S&P 500 on pace for its lowest since December 2020. Megacaps Apple Inc. and Tesla Inc. sank at least 3.5%. Twitter Inc. whipsawed during Elon Musk’s address to the social-media platform’s staff. Homebuilders slid as mortgage rates jumped the most since 1987.

Treasury two-year yields reversed an earlier rally while 10-year rates pared their increase after surging as much as 21 basis points to 3.49%. The dollar fell. Bitcoin unwound a gain of as much as 6.1%, heading toward its longest losing streak in Bloomberg data going back to 2010.

Declaring that it’s essential to tame inflation, Jerome Powell engineered the biggest rate increase since 1994 Wednesday and held out the distinct possibility of another jumbo hike in July. While the Fed chief sought to soften the blow of the 75-basis-point boost, saying he didn’t expect such moves to be the norm, he tacitly admitted the chance of an economic downturn.

“We’re worrying about growth and where the Fed takes us ultimately,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank. “Yesterday everybody said, ‘Oh good, the Fed is doing something aggressive, they’re going to get aggressive, they’ll try to catch up to the inflation curve.’ But now, you’re looking at it and saying, ‘Yeah, but are they chasing something they’re not going to be able to catch?’”

Inflation is “out of control” and the Fed is doing the best it can given its limited tools, Orlando Bravo said. Despite the carnage we’ve seen across the stock market, valuations still have much further to fall, according to Jim Chanos, the president and founder of Chanos & Company LP.

Read: End of TINA Sends Stock Traders Looking for Places to Hide

The S&P 500 now implies an 85% chance of a US recession amid fears of a policy error by the Fed, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The warning from quant and derivatives strategists is based on the average 26% decline for the gauge during the past 11 recessions and follows its collapse into a bear market.

One technical indicator of US stocks shows the extent of the recent slump, while offering a whiff of optimism that it will soon come to an end. 

The percentage of S&P 500 members that are trading above their 50-day moving average sank below 5% this week, the lowest level since Covid-19 fears battered shares more than two years ago. Both that selloff and the one that hit markets in late 2018 reversed course shortly after seeing a similar share of stocks dip below the closely watched technical average.

More comments:

  • “It’s not the next hike, the July hike, that worries me,” said Simona Mocuta, chief economist at State Street Global Advisors. “It’s what’s implied for the remainder of the year and then into 2023.”
  • “Our main takeaway from the Fed is hawkish — meaning the Fed is going to accept recession risk to deliver below-trend economic growth,” wrote Dennis DeBusschere, the founder of 22V Research.
  • “With quantitative tightening beginning, and the Fed Funds futures market pricing in another 75 basis point hike at the next meeting, concerns are mounting about whether the Fed is headed towards a policy mistake,” said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist at LPL Financial.
  • “Despite their assurance, it’s unclear to me whether the Fed has the tools they say they do to tamp down prices,” said Jason Brady, chief executive officer at Thornburg Investment Management.

Elsewhere, investors dumped European bonds and the franc rallied after a surprise Swiss rate hike. The pound rose as the Bank of England raised rates and signaled it’s prepared to unleash larger moves if needed. Currency options traders are betting the Bank of Japan will deliver a policy surprise this week.

US officials are working to arrange a possible call this summer between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to two people in Washington familiar with the plans as tensions simmer between the world’s two biggest economies.

Key events this week:

  • Bank of Japan policy decision, Friday.
  • Eurozone CPI, Friday.
  • US Conference Board leading index, industrial production, Friday

What are the next levels for the pound? UK is the theme of this week’s MLIV Pulse survey. Click here to participate anonymously.

Some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 fell 3.1% as of 12:45 p.m. New York time
  • The Nasdaq 100 fell 3.8%
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.3%
  • The MSCI World index fell 2.1%

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.8%
  • The euro rose 1.2% to $1.0565
  • The British pound rose 1.7% to $1.2392
  • The Japanese yen rose 1.5% to 131.80 per dollar

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries advanced three basis points to 3.31%
  • Germany’s 10-year yield advanced seven basis points to 1.71%
  • Britain’s 10-year yield advanced five basis points to 2.52%

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.9% to $116.34 a barrel
  • Gold futures rose 1.8% to $1,852.60 an ounce

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