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S&P 500 Limps To Slightly Lower Close As Quarter-end Looms

The three major U.S. stock indexes spent much of the session wavering between red and green. The Nasdaq joined the S&P 500, closing nominally lower, while the blue-chip Dow posted a modest gain

Photo Credit : REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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The S&P 500 ended a seesaw session slightly down on Wednesday as investors staggered toward the finish line of a downbeat month, a dismal quarter, and the worst first-half for Wall Street's benchmark index since President Richard Nixon's first term.

The three major U.S. stock indexes spent much of the session wavering between red and green. The Nasdaq joined the S&P 500, closing nominally lower, while the blue-chip Dow posted a modest gain.

"The market’s struggling to find direction," said Megan Horneman, chief investment officer at Verdence Capital Advisors in Hunt Valley, Maryland. "We had disappointing data, and the markets are waiting for earnings season, when we'll get more clarity" with respect to future earnings and an economic slowdown.

Market leaders Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.com provided the upside muscle, while economically sensitive chips small caps and transports were underperforming the broader market.

With the end of the month and the second quarter a day away, the S&P 500 has set a course for its biggest first-half percentage drop since 1970.

The Nasdaq was on its way to its worst-ever first-half performance, while the Dow appeared on track for its biggest January-June percentage drop since the financial crisis.

All three indexes were bound to post their second straight quarterly declines. That last time that happened was in 2015.

"We have a central bank that has had to pivot from a decades-old easy money policy to a tightening cycle," Horneman added. "This is new for a lot of investors."

"We’re seeing a repricing for what we expect to be a very different interest rate environment going forward."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 82.32 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 31,029.31, the S&P 500 lost 2.72 points, or 0.07 per cent, to 3,818.83 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 3.65 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 11,177.89.

Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, five lost ground on the day, with energy stocks suffering the largest percentage drop. Healthcare  led the gainers.

Benchmark Treasury yields have risen by over 1.606 percentage points so far in 2022, their biggest first-half jump since 1984. That explains why interest rate sensitive growth stocks have plunged over 26 per cent year-to-date.

Federal Reserve officials in recent days have reiterated their determination to rein in inflation, setting expectations for their second consecutive 75 basis point interest rate hike in July, while expressing confidence that monetary tightening will not tip the economy into recession. 


(Reuters)


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