Updated at 9:34 am EST
U.S. stocks slumped lower again Monday, while the dollar breached a fresh 20-year high and Treasury yields extended their recent gains, as investors sailed into a wall of worry linked to a slowdown in China, surging inflation and an aggressive Federal Reserve in the U.S. and a worrying escalation in Russia’s war on Ukraine in Europe.
With last Friday’s sell-off on Wall Street, which extended the longest weekly losing streak in more than a decade for the S&P 500, bleeding into the Asia session, stocks were already fragile when investors were hit with data showing a sharp slowdown in China exports and a warning from Premier Li Keqiang about the country’s Covid-hit jobless rate.
Extended crackdowns on business and travel in both Beijing and Shanghai added to the gloom, while a expected slump in China demand for oil and energy products offset a proposed G7 ban on Russian crude exports, sending WTI futures lower in overnight trading.
“We commit to phase out our dependency on Russian energy, including by phasing out or banning the import of Russian oil. We will ensure that we do so in a timely and orderly fashion,” the G7 statement said. “We will work together and with our partners to ensure stable and sustainable global energy supplies and affordable prices for consumers.”
WTI futures for June delivery were marked $2.67 lower at $107.10 per barrel while Brent contracts for July fell $2.43 to trade at $109.94 per barrel.
In Europe, with Russian President Vladimir Putin expected to speak at a celebration marking the end of the Second World War later today, investors are worried that the conflict could escalate quickly if the so-called ‘special operation’ is formally upgraded to a war by Russian lawmakers.
The region-wide Stoxx 600 was marked 2.14% lower in mid-day trading in Frankfurt trading while the FTSE 100 fell another 1.95% in London.
Wrapped around all of those concerns, as well, is the specter of more market volatility, with the CBOE’s VIX index, also known as Wall Street’s ‘fear gauge’, rising another 10% in early-hours to trade at 33.21 points, near to the highest levels since early March.
Save-haven trading lifted the U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a baskets of six global currencies, to a fresh 20-year high of 104.187 in overnight dealing, before easing to 1043.833, while benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields were last seen at a December 2018 high of 3.193%.
Bitcoin prices slumped below $33,000, extending its 2022 decline for the world’s biggest cryptocurrency to nearly 30%, as investors plough cash into risk-free assets while finding higher returns in government bonds and the U.S. dollar.
“The combination of rising US yields, a rising US dollar and falling risky asset prices is likely a self-reinforcing set of developments that it dangerous as long as correlations across assets remains so high,” said Saxo Bank strategists. “Financial conditions are still tightening, the VIX is above 30, interest rates are rising across the curve, and the USD is also rallying.”
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“US equity sentiment continues to be weak with S&P 500 futures testing this morning the Friday lows around the 4,060 level, which is the key level to watch on the downside,” the team added. “If S&P 500 futures close below 4,100 today it will be the lowest close since May 2021 and reinforcing the downward trend.”
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was marked 490 points lower at the start of trading while the S&P 500, which is down 13.5% for the year, fell another 70 points. The tech-focused Nasdaq retreated 233 points.
Looking into the coming week, inflation data will likely take center-stage this week as investors match the hawkish turn of the Federal Reserve, and the prospect of faster rate hikes, against what could be a peak in consumer price readings heading into the summer months.
The Commerce Department will publish April inflation data on Wednesday, with analysts expecting an easing in the headline reading from a four-decade high of 8.5% to around 8.1%, with so-called core inflation, which strips out volatile components such as food and energy, also slowing by around 50 basis points to an annual rate of 6%. Factory gate inflation data will follow on Thursday.
The readings will provide and important context for last week’s assertion by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell that he and his colleagues are not “actively considering” a 75 basis point rate hike, given the fact that inflation conditions could moderate over the coming months.
The CME Group’s FedWatch tool suggests only a 20.1% chance of a 75 basis point Fed Funds increase next month.
On the earnings front, a quiet week is expected with only 20 S&P 500 companies reporting, including Tyson Foods (TSN) – Get Tyson Foods, Inc. Class A Report, Walt Disney (DIS) – Get Walt Disney Company Report and Occidental Petroleum (OXY) – Get Occidental Petroleum Corporation Report.
With around 87% of the S&P 500 having reported March quarter earnings, collective profits are likely to rise 10.3% from last year to $450.3 billion before slowing to around $4401.9 billion over the second quarter, according to Refinitiv forecasts.
In terms of individual stocks, Uber Technologies (UBER) – Get Uber Technologies, Inc. Report shares were down 3.45%, and outpacing declines for the broader Nasdaq benchmark, following reports that the ride-sharing group will slow hiring and reduce its marketing costs.
Tyson Foods (TSN) – Get Tyson Foods, Inc. Class A Report jumped 1.9% after it posted stronger-than-expected second quarter earnings Monday, while boosting its full-year sales outlook, as the world’s biggest food producer said solid global demand offset inflationary pressures across its supply chain.