Dow slumps more than 800 points as April losses mount

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Wall Street’s April sell-off resumed in earnest Tuesday, with the Dow tumbling more than 800 points as investors braced for a series of wild-card corporate earnings reports, heightening existing worries on rising interest rates.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 809 points, about 2.4 percent. The broader S&P 500 index fell 2.8 percent, while the Nasdaq, which is heavy on tech stocks, plunged nearly 4 percent.

Analysts said Tuesday’s market dive is mostly about rising interest rates and concerns over corporate earnings.

The Fed’s decisive move toward higher interest rates ― a measure intended to control inflation ― has forced investors to reevaluate growth-oriented investments such as tech stocks. Several industry giants are reporting first-quarter results this week, including Google parent Alphabet and Microsoft on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the second of seven planned rate hikes is expected to be announced next week at the culmination of the Fed’s two-day meeting. Investors had already been expecting a series of 0.25 percent rate hikes, but central bank officials have made clear that a 0.5 percent increase is on the table.

Investors also are waiting on financial results later this week from Amazon, Capital One, Facebook parent Meta Platforms and Twitter.

Most of those stocks were winners during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, but they now present new sources of uncertainty; any one of them could report some negative news affecting their long-term growth prospects, such as the subscriber loss that erased more than a third of Netflix’s market value last week.

“The U.S. tech quintet always causes a stir during earnings season and it’s evident that investors on Wall Street are bracing themselves for disappointment,” said AJ Bell financial analyst Danni Hewson, a reference to Alphabet, Amazon, Apple and Meta.

Word of Elon Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter gave the markets a sentiment-driven boost Monday, said George Ball of the Houston-based investment firm Sanders Morris Harris. The stock jumped about 6 percent.

But that was merely “a short-term distraction from the broader worries facing markets, like inflation, geopolitical concerns and a more hawkish Federal Reserve,” Ball said in an email. Moody’s later placed Twitter on review for downgrade over concerns about the massive loads of debt being used to finance the deal.

To Ball’s point, Asian markets have reeled in recent sessions as coronavirus outbreaks in China have brought entire cities to a standstill and shut down the country’s manufacturing and shipping hubs. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index is down 5 percent over the past week.

The Russian war in Ukraine could still weigh markets. Oil prices resumed their upward climb Tuesday after losing ground in recent sessions. West Texas Intermediate crude, the U.S. benchmark, was up 3.9 percent Tuesday afternoon to about $102 per barrel.

Commonwealth Financial Network chief investment officer Brad McMillan had encouraging words for investors amid an otherwise gloomy mood on Wall Street, ending his Tuesday investors note with, “Keep calm and carry on.”

Tuesday’s declines exemplify how the market is pricing in rate hikes before they actually happen, suggesting prices could go up from here, he said. If the Fed succeeds in bringing inflation under control, blue skies could be on the horizon before long.

“This is painful in the short term, but necessary to lay the foundation for future growth,” McMillan wrote. “As always, we just need to ride out the short-term pain to benefit from that future growth.”