In a volatile trading week, stocks extended their losses as economic growth and inflation concerns soured investor sentiment.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2.14%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 2.41%. The Nasdaq Composite index fell 2.80% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, slumped 3.21%.1,2,3
A Turbulent Week
Inflation moved to center stage last week with the release of April’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the Producer Price Index. Both numbers came near their 40-year highs but were lower than March’s year-over-year numbers. The results heightened investor anxiety about future Fed monetary tightening and its impact on economic growth.
In recent weeks, technology stocks have borne the brunt of the downdraft as investors lightened up on risk exposures, with some of the mega-cap tech names getting swept up in the selling pressure. Cooling import price increases buoyed spirits on Friday, helping spark a rally that reduced the week’s losses.
Inflation Stays Hot
Investors were greeted with a mixed CPI report, looking for signs that inflation may be cooling. Year-over-year costs rose 8.3%, slower than the previous month but faster than consensus estimates. Excluding food and energy, core inflation climbed 6.2%. Buried beneath the headline number was a 5.1% yearly increase in shelter costs, the most significant increase since 1991. Shelter costs account for one-third of the CPI.4
Inflation has been a weight on markets all year. Investors are concerned that the persistence of higher prices may tip the economy into recession as increased spending on essential needs crimps consumers’ spending power.
1. The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2022
2. The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2022
3. The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2022
4. CNBC, May 11, 2022