Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testified before Congress earlier this week and once again repeated the message that more rate hikes are likely if inflation continues. He also stressed that the current labor market is too hot, and even got into a back-and-forth with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) about the need to increase unemployment. The testimony confirmed investors' suspicions that the Fed wasn't done with tightening, and markets were rattled accordingly. The jobs report released on Friday only reinforced this narrative, as it showed the U.S. economy adding 311,000 jobs in February, which is 100,000 more than the consensus estimate. In other words, it's becoming even more clear that the Fed won't be changing course anytime soon.
Shares of Silicon Valley Bank, a major lender in the nation's biggest tech hub, plunged toward the end of the week after the banker said it needed to raise $2.25 billion in stock to remain solvent. Then the bank announced it was trying to sell itself, adding momentum to the sell-off. Fears that Silicon Valley Bank's troubles would spread to the rest of the banking sector put downward pressure on markets Friday, but stocks rebounded later in the morning, with investors betting that the problems were contained. Trading of the stock was halted early Friday, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation shut down the bank and seized its assets.
The price of Bitcoin sank more than 10 percent to below $20,000, with second-largest cryptocurrency ether falling by a similar amount. The sell-off followed the announcement from crypto bank Silvergate Capital was winding down operations due to liquidity issues. The crypto sector overall suffered hundreds of millions in liquidations this week, with this latest bankruptcy adding to a growing consensus that the crypto market is in shambles.
WeightWatchers' stock soared more than 70 percent Tuesday following reports that it was planning to buy Sequence, a telehealth company that helps treat obesity. The company has struggled over the past year to transition away from weight loss and embrace other aspects of wellness and nutrition. CEO Sima Sistani took over in February, and the acquisition is one of the company's first big plays under new leadership. The purchase also comes amid heightened buzz around weight loss drugs such as Ozempic.