Wall Street sinks as bond yields spike

Lewis Krauskopf, Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Shreyashi SanyalReuters
Goldman Sachs shares tumbled after the investment bank missed quarterly profit expectations
Camera IconGoldman Sachs shares tumbled after the investment bank missed quarterly profit expectations Credit: AP

Wall Street's main indices have fallen sharply as weak results from Goldman Sachs weighed on financial stocks and tech shares continued their sell-off to start the year as US Treasury yields rose to milestones.

The Nasdaq dropped most among major indices on Tuesday and now has fallen about 9.7 per cent from its November 19 record closing high, close to confirming a 10 per cent correction for the first time since early 2021.

The tech-heavy index also closed below its 200-day moving average, a key technical support level, for the first time since April 2020.

Goldman Sachs shares tumbled seven per cent after the investment bank missed quarterly profit expectations amid weak trading activity. The financials sector, which has been one of the better-performing groups in 2022, dropped 2.3 per cent.

"The financials crumbling a little bit under the weight of less-than-impressive earnings quarters is probably the biggest factor today," said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana.

"When you have taken out potentially one of the areas that actually was working here, that kind of casts a pall on the market."

Benchmark US Treasury yields jumped to two-year highs and two-year yields breached one per cent as traders prepared for the Federal Reserve to be more aggressive in tackling unabated inflation.

The steep ascent in yields to start 2022 has weighed in particular on tech and growth stocks, whose future expected cash flows are discounted more sharply as yields rise.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 543.34 points, or 1.51 per cent, to 35,368.47, the S&P 500 lost 85.74 points, or 1.84 per cent, to 4,577.11 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 386.86 points, or 2.6 per cent, to 14,506.90.

Of 11 S&P 500 sectors, 10 ended lower, with technology falling the most. Energy, the top-percentage gainer so far in 2022, was the lone sector in positive territory, rising 0.4 per cent.

Declines in megacap stocks, including Microsoft, Apple and Meta Platforms, weighed heavily on the S&P 500 among individual shares.

Investors are zeroing in on next week's Fed policy meeting. Data last week showed US consumer prices increased solidly in December, culminating in the largest annual rise in inflation in nearly four decades.

In company news, Activision shares soared nearly 26 per cent after Microsoft announced a deal to buy the video-game maker for $US68.7 billion. Shares of other video game companies rose, with Electronic Arts up 2.7 per cent and Take-Two Interactive Software up one per cent. Microsoft shares fell 2.4 per cent.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 5.52-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 4.93-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 34 new 52-week highs and nine new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 69 new highs and 611 new lows.

About 11.9 billion shares changed hands in US exchanges, compared with the 10 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

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