Stocks sink lower as rate jitters dash hopes for year-end rally

US equities extended a rout Monday after stocks booked consecutive weekly losses for the first time since late September.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) slid 0.9%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) declined around 160 points, or 0.5%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) tumbled 1.5%. All three major averages fell for a fourth straight day to six-week lows.

Monday’s moves continue a sell-off from last week that came after Federal Reserve officials delivered a half percentage point increase to their overnight policy rate. Fed Chair Jerome Powell also emphasized that interest rate increases would continue into the new year, and policy will remain restrictive for as long as needed to rein in inflation that still remains high – even if it means economic consequences.

The S&P 500 shed 2.1%, the Dow 1.7%, and the Nasdaq 2.7% for the week.

“Data showing inflation cooling may have given the market a short-lived boost, but the Fed standing firm with Powell driving home the point that rates could remain elevated for quite a while likely grounded some investors,” Chris Larkin, managing director of trading at Morgan Stanley’s E*TRADE, said in a note.

In other areas of the market, US Treasury yields moved higher, while the US dollar index retreated. Oil rose, with West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures nearly rising 2% to trade above $75 per barrel.

Tesla’s (TSLA) stock closed just below flat after rising and falling as much as 3% earlier in the session following CEO Elon Musk’s Twitter poll asking whether he should step down as head of the social media platform he recently acquired. Oppenheimer downgraded the stock and called sentiment “severely damaged.”

Last week, shares of Tesla plunged 16% — marking its worst week since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 — over concerns about Musk’s management of Twitter and sales of Tesla stock.

Megacaps were also under pressure, with Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT) and Alphabet (GOOG) each down more than 1.5%. Shares of Facebook parent Meta Platforms (META) fell 4.1% after the European Union charged the company with breaching antitrust laws by distorting competition in markets for online classified advertising.

AMC Entertainment (AMC) sank below $5, the lowest since March 2021.

The company announced Monday that it raised over $162 million from its AMC Preferred Equity units (APE) since since inception of the program a few months ago, using proceeds to pay down debt and fund strategic acquisitions.

Elsewhere, Disney’s (DIS) shares declined 4.8% to the lowest since March 2020 after “Avatar: The Way of Water” missed industry expectations of $170 million-plus in revenue for the opening weekend.

Shares of Coinbase (COIN) hit a record low of $34.64 during the session and closed down 3.9%.

The US central bank’s messaging about sustained, restrictive monetary policy has dampened hopes for a Santa Claus rally — a steady rise in the stock market that occurs around year-end holidays. With Friday’s second straight weekly decline, the S&P 500 is now down nearly 6% month-to-date.

“It’s been a one-two punch – it’s been about the Fed and then some weaker economic data – and that has created a picture of a Fed that has been ruthless about inflation and, perhaps, careless about the economy, not recognizing in particular how much impact and how much damage what it’s already done thus far has had,” Invesco Chief Global Market Strategist Kristina Hooper told Yahoo Finance Live. “The general concern is that we’re headed for a recession based on what the Fed has already done, and on top of that, the Fed is poised to do more.”

Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, US, December 14, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Before markets close for a long Christmas weekend, investors are in for a hectic economic and earnings lineup that may offer further hints about the direction of Fed policy in the new year.

This week’s economic calendar will bring investors the latest personal consumption expenditures price index — or PCE — which is the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, as well as another reading on GDP, a batch of housing data, and the Conference Board’s gauge of consumer confidence.

Earnings from Nike (NKE), General Mills (GIS), FedEx (FDX), Micron Technology (MU), and Carnival Cruises (CCL) are also highlights this week.

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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