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The Week's Top Stories: Indexes Tumble, Tech Tanks & Kellogg's Pops

The Week's Top Stories is a guided tour through the biggest market stories of the week, from winning stocks to brutal dips to the facts and forecasts generating buzz on Wall Street.   

MARKET WOES

Where to begin? For one thing, this stock market is not for the faint of heart. On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial dropped more than 1,000 points; the Nasdaq Composite fell 5 percent; and the S&P 500 slid 3.5 percent, in the worst single-day drop for all three indexes since 2020. Stocks clawed back some of those losses Friday while swinging wildly, but tit's looking pretty rough overall as the losses stack up week-over-week. The reasons for the volatility are well-known at this point: Federal Reserve rate hikes, the war in Ukraine, COVID shutdowns in China, and, of course, inflation. But knowing the cause of your pain doesn't always make it go away, and there are arguably no easy solutions to this complicated tangle of global challenges. In the meantime, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate 50 basis points. The hike was the largest in 22 years and an escalation in the central bank's fight to bring down prices. Alas, whack one mole and another emerges. Most market-watchers agree that tighter monetary conditions (or the fear of them) are why equities are taking a beating this week. 

TECH TROUBLES

This is especially true for tech companies, which once again contributed a sizable chunk of the losses. E-commerce companies specifically took the brunt of the bearish sentiment this round, with Etsy, Shopify, and others falling off a cliff. Etsy saw its shares fall 17 percent after the company warned that the days of break-neck growth were ending. Shopify fell 15 percent after giving a similar warning to investors, and Wayfair dropped 26 percent after reporting bigger losses than expected. Elsewhere in tech, earnings were more mixed, but still pretty bearish overall. Lyft plunged 30 percent on the news that it was struggling to attract drivers and was expecting headwinds in the coming quarter. Uber, meanwhile, reported a huge loss on its investment portfolio, which tempered news that trips had risen 18 percent in Q1. 

BEERS AND CEREAL

One bright spot in the stock market this week was some solid gains from a handful of venerable food and beverage companies. Kellogg's saw gains on both Thursday and Friday, while the rest of the market launched, on the back of strong sales data. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of Bud Light and Michelob ULTRA, rallied after it reported an 11 percent jump in revenue and a 2.8 percent bump in total sales volume. 

WHEELING AND DEALING

Even as the stock market took a beating this week, the dealmaking continued. Elon Musk secured an additional $7 billion in financing for his Twitter takeover, including contributions from a Saudi prince and the crypto exchange Binance.  Spirit turned down a potential merger with JetBlue and is instead moving ahead with plans to form a discount duo with Frontier. And the New York City Employees' Retirement System filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, alleging that CEO Bobby Kotick rushed a merger deal with Microsoft in order to "escape liability" for enabling workplace harassment and abuse under his watch. 

'WOODSTOCK OF CAPITALISM'

"It feels really good to be back," said Warren Buffet on Monday at Berkshire Hathaway's first in-person shareholder meeting since the start of the pandemic. The event, which takes place in Omaha, Nebraska, is known as the "Woodstock of Capitalism," and it is closely watched in the financial world, especially now, as the conglomerate gobbles up shares amid the volatility. The 91-year-old Buffet was also particularly feisty this year, going in hard on his bête noire Bitcoin. "Now if you told me you own all of the Bitcoin (BTC-USD) in the world and you offered it to me for $25 I wouldn't take it because what would I do with it? I'd have to sell it back to you one way or another."

FACTS AND FORECASTS

Workers are apparently keeping it pretty chill while Wall Street wobbles. Labor productivity fell 7.5 percent in the first quarter of 2022, which is the biggest drop since 1947. At the same time, unit labor costs increased at an annualized rate of 11.6 percent. This means workers got less done for more money. However, it's worth noting that worker productivity grew three times as much as wage growth between 1979 and 2021, according to the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute. Perhaps workers are just taking a much-needed break now that they've got the upper hand in this tight labor market. 
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