Wall Street’s main indexes slipped in choppy trading on Thursday as technology and growth stocks struggled for direction amid rising bond yields and weaker risk appetite on concerns around surging inflation and aggressive interest rate hikes.
Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors declined in morning trade, with energy and materials among the biggest losers. Defensive consumer staples sector was the top gainer, up 0.5%.
Apple Inc and Amazon.com fell 1%, dragging the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes lower. Bank of America slipped 1.7%, while the broader banks index shed 1.2%.
Rate-sensitive growth stocks are under pressure from the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yield, which climbed as much as 3.07% to its highest level since May 11.
Inflation worries came to fore ahead of U.S. consumer price index report on Friday as Brent crude prices rose above $123 a barrel.
Investors fear a hot reading on inflation could keep the U.S. Federal Reserve on its path to raise interest rates aggressively against the backdrop of a volatile stock market, strong consumer spending and tight labor market.
“We’re not going to see the market enjoy a robust recovery until there is a sense the inflationary pressures are easing as that will suggest the Fed has been moving in the right direction and the weakening of the economy has not been drastic,” said Quincy Krosby, chief equity strategist at LPL Financial.
“The market has been in a tight trading range. The volume in either scenario, buying or selling, has been weak and that is indicative of a market without commitment.”
The U.S. central bank has raised its short-term interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point this year and intends to keep at it with 50 basis points increases at its meeting next week and again in July.
At 10:08 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 60.73 points, or 0.18%, at 32,850.17, the S&P 500 was down 9.04 points, or 0.22%, at 4,106.73, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 30.00 points, or 0.25%, at 12,056.27.
Tesla Inc rose 3.9% as the electric automaker sold 32,165 China-made vehicles last month, up sharply from 1,152 in April. Brokerage UBS upgraded the stock to “buy” and raised its profit estimates for the next three years.
Alibaba Group slipped 1.6% after its affiliate Ant Group said it has no plan to initiate an initial public offering.
Reuters reported China’s central leadership has given a tentative green light to Jack Ma’s Ant Group to revive its initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, rose after two straight days of fall and was last trading at 24.63 points.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 3.30-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.73-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded three new 52-week highs and 30 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 11 new highs and 56 new lows.