By Damian J. Troise
Stocks closed a wobbly day of trading mostly lower on Wall Street Monday, extending a losing streak for markets.
The broader market is in the midst of a slump as investors try to gauge how companies and consumers are dealing with higher prices and whether central banks can help ease the problem. Major indexes have been slipping since early April.
“Time is the most important factor here,” said Mark Hackett, chief of investment research at Nationwide. “Right now sentiment and emotion is winning but eventually the reality of a fundamentally good backdrop will take over.”
Corporate earnings have been mostly good, he said, and consumer spending is holding up in the face of inflation pressure. But, the market will likely remain volatile and could experience more losses until some of the worries over inflation lessen.
The S&P 500 fell 15.88 points, or 0.4%, to 4,008.01. The benchmark index is coming off a six-week losing streak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a gain, rising 26.76 points, or 0.1%, to 32,223.42.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq had a sharp drop. It fell 142.21 points, or 1.2%, to 11,662.79.
Technology stocks were among the biggest losers after pushing and pulling the market throughout the day. Apple fell 1.1%. Big tech companies, with their pricey values, tend to push the broader market both up or down. The sector has been a particularly heavy weight as investors worry about high inflation and rising interest rates.
Retailers also had some of the biggest losses. Amazon slipped 2% and Starbucks fell 4.2%.
Energy stocks and health care companies gained ground. Chevron rose 3.1% and Eli Lilly rose 2.7%.
Bond yields fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.89% from 2.94% late Friday.
Spirit Airlines rose 13.5% after JetBlue said it would make a hostile offer for the budget carrier after Spirit rebuffed its earlier bids.
Defense contractor ManTech jumped 15% after investment firm Carlyle Group said it will buy the defense contractor.
The Federal Reserve is in the process of pulling its benchmark short-term interest rate off its record low near zero, where it spent most of the pandemic. It also said it may continue to raise rates by double the usual amount at upcoming meetings. Investors are concerned that the central bank could cause a recession if it raises rates too high or too quickly.
Lingering supply chain problems continue to feed inflation, and China's recent COVID-19 lockdowns have raised concerns that they may worsen. Russia's war against Ukraine has made already high energy prices even more volatile, which could also draw out rising inflation.
U.S. crude oil prices rose 3.4% Monday and are up more than 50% for the year. Natural gas prices rose 3.8% and have more than doubled in 2022.
Wall Street is closely watching how consumers react to pressure from inflation and will get several updates from the U.S. government and key retailers this week. The Commerce Department on Tuesday will release its retail sales report for April.
Home Depot and Walmart will report their latest financial results on Tuesday and Target will report its results on Wednesday.
Updated on May 16, 2022, at 4:42 p.m. ET.