Nasdaq hammered as US stocks resume sell-off

·3-min read
Indications that US inflation may be reaching a peak failed to keep stocks rallying (AFP/MOHD RASFAN) (MOHD RASFAN)

Wall Street stocks were back under pressure Thursday after two up sessions, with tech shares diving on expectations for higher interest rates.

With Federal Reserve officials vowing to focus on inflation as a top priority, investors are quickly readjusting their forecasts.

Art Hogan, chief strategist at National Securities, said many growth-oriented tech stocks are still overvalued, given expectations that the Fed could raise interest rates multiple times in 2021.

"We're seeing some significant rotation out of tech," Hogan said, noting the "decidedly more hawkish Fed" compared with earlier in the pandemic.

US stocks opened higher, but later tripped into the red. All three major indices ended lower, with the tech-rich Nasdaq falling the most at 2.5 percent.

Wall Street's decline came after bourses in Europe pushed higher.

Interest rates and inflation "will keep investors on their toes", said market analyst Craig Erlam, who added that "underlying anxiety in the markets... could make for some volatile price action for the foreseeable future".

"It does seem that investors are on the edge of what they will tolerate and it won't take much to push them over the edge," he said.

On Wednesday, data showed US consumer prices in 2021 rose at the fastest pace in four decades. However, CPI growth slowed in December from November, indicating the price surge may be nearing a peak.

Wholesale prices for US goods and services eased somewhat in December, but still jumped 9.7 percent for the year, the latest indication of pressure on prices.

Many economists expect three rate hikes this year, but St Louis Federal Bank President James Bullard said Wednesday policymakers might have to be more aggressive and raise four times.

Another regional Fed president, Raphael Bostic of Atlanta, said he was open to hiking as early as March.

Hogan said the upcoming earnings period could provide a catalyst to shift the recent trading pattern, which has seen tech shares generally under pressure.

Large banks including JPMorgan Chase are set to report results on Friday.

Among individual companies, Delta Air Lines rose 2.1 percent as it reported a fourth-quarter loss but signaled it expects a strong spring bounceback in travel if infections from the Omicron variant decrease.

- Key figures around 2115 GMT -

New York - DOW: UP 0.5 percent at 36,113.62 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 1.4 percent at 4,659.03 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 2.5 percent at 14,806.81 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,563.85 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.1 percent at 16,031.59 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.5 percent at 7,201.14 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: FLAT at 4,315.90 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.0 percent at 28,517.94 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.1 percent at 24,429.77 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.2 percent at 3,555.26 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1469 from $1.1442 late Wednesday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3704 from $1.3700

Euro/pound: DOWN at 83.50 pence from 83.52

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 114.16 yen from 114.64 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.2 percent at $84.47 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.6 percent at $82.12 per barrel

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