U.S. stocks seesawed Monday with major averages hitting their lows of the day after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sounded alarms on surging inflation and vowed tough action.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed about 275 points, or 0.8%, in the volatile session. The S&P 500 fell 0.3%, after being up 0.4% at its highs of the day. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was down 0.7%, also having been up 0.4% at its session high.
Powell said Monday that “inflation is much too high’ and pledged to take “necessary steps” to bring prices under control. He noted rate hikes could go from the traditional 25 basis point moves to more aggressive 50 basis point increases if necessary. The comments come less than a week after the Fed raised interest rates for the first time since 2018.
Last week, the three major averages notched their best week since November 2020, boosted largely by growth stocks.
“The rally in equities over the past week was one of the sharpest on record. While it could go a bit higher … we remain convicted it’s still a bear market and we would use this strength to position more defensively,” Morgan Stanley’s Michael Wilson said in a note Monday.
On Monday, Boeing dropped about 4% after a China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737 passenger plane crashed, weighing on the Dow.
Rising rates appeared to hit tech stocks, as the benchmark 10-year yield climbed about 0.13 percentage points to hit 2.3%. Facebook parent Meta lost more than 2% and Microsoft ticked down about 1%.
On the upside, energy stocks rallied Monday as oil prices rose. Occidental Petroleum and Marathon Oil were among the top gainers on the S&P 500, each rising about 8%.
Brent crude gained more than 6% to surpass $115 a barrel, as European Union nations considered joining the U.S. in an embargo on Russian oil.
The S&P 500 recouped nearly half of its correction losses last week as investors received highly anticipated clarity from the Fed’s interest rate hike. The central bank signaled it expects to raise rates at its remaining six meetings this year.
Market participants are also monitoring the war between Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned if peace talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin fail, it would mean the start of a “third world war.”
Ukrainian and Russian officials have met intermittently for peace talks, which have failed to progress to key concessions. Ukraine has also rejected an ultimatum to surrender the city of Mariupol to Russian troops.
Investors are also evaluating a rise in Covid cases in Europe stemming from an emerging variant.
“We still don’t believe a sustainable bottom is in place, given our views that the geopolitical situation remains extremely fluid, inflation should continue to come in hot, and the growth outlook is weakening,” Wolfe Research’s Chris Senyek said in a note Monday.
The economic calendar is relatively light this week, but several companies report earnings. Nike and Tencent Music report quarterly results after the market closes Monday.
–CNBC’s Patti Domm contributed to this report.