Stocks extend losses as hot inflation stokes rate concerns

Selina Johansson

Stocks added to Thursday’s losses as jitters over a swift tightening of financial conditions increased on the heels of a multi-decade high print on inflation.

The S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq fell during a choppy session Friday. The S&P 500 had declined by 1.8% on Thursday and the Nasdaq dropped 2.1%, as technology shares came under pressure while Treasury yields spiked. The benchmark 10-year yield rose further on Friday after breaking above 2% for the first time since August 2019 a day earlier.

Stocks sold off and yields climbed after the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ January Consumer Price Index (CPI) showed the biggest annual jump in inflation since 1982.

The surging 7.5% jump in prices escalated calls for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more aggressively than previously expected and begin rolling assets off its balance sheet, in moves that would curb liquidity in the financial system and dampen soaring consumer demand and prices. St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told Bloomberg News on Thursday he wanted to see interest rates be raised by a full percentage by July and start the Fed’s balance sheet run-off process in the second quarter, in one of the most hawkish paths so far telegraphed by a Fed official.

“That’s not out of the realm of possibility,” David Spika, GuideStone Capital Management president, told Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday about Bullard’s suggestion. “The Fed realizes they have to start moving. … Consumers are getting killed with this inflation. The Fed has to move and has to move quickly if they want to rein this in.”

“If you go back even to the end of the financial crisis, monetary policy has been the key factor in driving returns and really providing that ‘Fed put’ that really allowed investors to come in and buy the dip,” he added. “Those days are behind us — particularly with the inflation we’re seeing now — and the market does not like this. It’s like a kid that has never been told ‘no,’ that is now being told no and is throwing a temper tantrum. This will continue.”

And against the inflationary backdrop, others also increased their expectations for the number of rate hikes the Fed is likely to roll out this year. Deutsche Bank economists said Thursday they now expect two more quarter-point hikes than they had previously forecasted. With the upgrade, they now see a 50 basis point rate hike at the March Fed meeting, followed by 25 basis point hikes after each of the following meetings of the year except for in November. If realized, a half-point rate hike in March would mark the Fed’s first increase of more than 25 basis points since 2000.

“I think investors have to ask themselves, do I want to hedge against inflation, or do I want to beat inflation? And so, I think things like gold are where you can hedge, but I think there are other areas where you can continue to outpace and see outsized gains relative to inflation,” Jordan Jackson, JPMorgan Asset Management global market strategist, told Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday. “I think that’s things like equities, I do think commodity markets are relatively well-supported here as well. And so investors will need to get diversified in how they think about hedging and outpacing inflation at the current juncture.”

11:53 a.m. ET: Stocks turn lower after hot inflation print, consumer sentiment disappointment

The three major indexes turned sharply lower heading into the afternoon session on Friday, after the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index affirmed that Americans’ inflation expectations were rising further. A jump in Treasury yields stoked a drop in growth and technology stocks.

The information technology, consumer discretionary and communication services sectors declined in the. S&P 500. Energy and financials were among the outperformers, with both standing to benefit from an environment with rising rates and commodity prices.

10:00 a.m. ET: Consumer sentiment falls sharply in early February to lowest in a decade as inflation concerns escalate

U.S. consumer sentiment sank much more than expected in February to set a fresh decade low as concerns over inflation rose markedly among many Americans.

The University of Michigan’s closely watched consumer sentiment index dropped to 61.7 in early February, marking the lowest level since Oct. 2011. This compared with a reading of 67.2 in January. Consensus economists were looking for the preliminary February index to come in at 67.0, according to Bloomberg data.

Consumer expectations for inflation over the next year also rose to 5.0%, representing the highest level since 2008. In December, consumers’ one-year inflation expectations were at 4.9%.

“Sentiment continued its downward descent, reaching its worst level in a decade, falling a stunning 8.2% from last month and 19.7% from last February,” Richard Curtin, chief economist for the Surveys of Consumers, said in a press statement. “The recent declines have been driven by weakening personal financial prospects, largely due to rising inflation, less confidence in the government’s economic policies, and the least favorable long term economic outlook in a decade.”

“The impact of higher inflation on personal finances was spontaneously cited by one-third of all consumers, with nearly half of all consumers expecting declines in their inflation adjusted incomes during the year ahead,” he added. “In addition, fewer households cited rising net household wealth since the pandemic low in May 2020, largely due to the falling likelihood of stock price increases in 2022.”

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open higher

Here’s where stocks were trading just after market open on Friday:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): +9.71 (+0.22%) to 4,513.79

  • Dow (^DJI): +47.39 (+0.13%) to 35,288.98

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): +42.64 (+0.31%) to 14,230.07

  • Crude (CL=F): +$1.10 (+1.22%) to $90.98 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$7.50 (-0.41%) to $1,829.90 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -2.2 bps to yield 2.007%

7:27 a.m. ET Friday: Stock futures point to a lower open

Here’s where markets were trading Friday morning:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): -12 points (-0.27%), to 4,485.50

  • Dow futures (YM=F): -80 points (-0.23%), to 35,059.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): -49.25 points (-0.34%) to 14,651.75

  • Crude (CL=F): +$1.20 (+1.34%) to $91.08 a barrel

  • Gold (GC=F): -$8.10 (-0.44%) to $1,829.30 per ounce

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -3.1 bps to yield 1.998%

6:10 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures decline further

Here’s where markets were trading as the overnight session began on Thursday:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): -4.75 points (-0.11%), to 4,492.75

  • Dow futures (YM=F): -36 points (-0.1%), to 35,103.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): -9.5 points (-0.06%) to 14,691.50

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – DECEMBER 08: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on December 08, 2021 in New York City. Following news from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer on the effectiveness of its vaccine against the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied nearly 100 points in morning trading on Wednesday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter

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