U.S. stocks declined Monday following global equities lower, as concerns over an escalating COVID outbreak in China added to jitters over U.S. economic growth in the face of heightened inflation and monetary policy tightening.
The S&P 500 fell by nearly 1% just after the opening bell as the index looked to add to last week’s losses. The Dow and Nasdaq each also dropped. U.S. Treasury yields dipped, and the benchmark 10-year yield hovered just above 2.8%.
West Texas intermediate crude oil futures fell more than 4% to trade below $98 per barrel, with fears over the economic impact of broadening virus-related restrictions throughout China mounting. Beijing saw a spike in COVID cases over the weekend that prompted more mandatory testing and some lockdowns in the region. And this came as other populous cities including Shanghai have also recently grappled with fresh waves of infections, even as the country works to abolish the virus under a zero-COVID policy.
In a note published last week, Bank of America economist Helen Qiao slashed her forecast for China’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 4.2% from 4.8% for 2022 as the number of lockdowns throughout the country increased.
“COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions imposed in Shanghai and neighboring cities are not only hitting local demand but also causing logistic breakdowns and widespread supply-chain disruptions within and outside of the area,” Qiao wrote in the note published April 19. “In our view, even if such control measures will ultimately be rolled back and economic activities will gradually normalize by mid-year, a heavy toll on growth already seems inevitable.”
Meanwhile, investors have also been grappling with reassertions from Federal Reserve officials last week that the central bank would be taking a tough stance on reining in inflation. Fed Chair Jerome Powell as well as San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly were among the latest to suggest they saw the case for 50 basis point interest rate hikes this year. These larger-than-typical increases would front-load the Fed’s monetary policy response to inflation in the near-term.
“Mr. Powell once again highlighted the Fed’s focus on elevated prices and the need for policy to move towards neutral to restore price stability. His comments pretty much confirm market expectations of a 50-basis-point hike at the May 3-4 FOMC meeting, which would be the first such move since 2000,” Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a note. “While Mr. Powell did not comment on the trajectory of policy beyond the May FOMC meeting, other Fed officials — including San Francisco President Daly and Chicago President Evans — have said that a couple of 50-basis-point hikes are possible this year.”
Though Federal Reserve officials are in a quiet period this week ahead of the central bank’s meeting next week, a packed slate of corporate earnings results will pull investors’ attention. In the coming days, a bevy of major companies and stock index components will post results, including Alphabet (GOOGL), Meta Platforms (FB), Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN).
As of Friday, about one-fifth of S&P 500 companies had reported their actual first-quarter results. Of these, 79% topped Wall Street’s earnings estimates, while 69% exceeded sales expectations, according to data from FactSet’s senior earnings analyst John Butters. The expected earnings growth rate for the index stood at 6.6% heading into this week, which if carried through the end of reporting season, would mark the slowest growth rate since the fourth quarter of 2020, Butters noted.
9:31 a.m. ET: Stocks open lower
Here’s where stocks were trading just after the opening bell Monday morning:
S&P 500 (^GSPC): -38.31 (-0.9%) to 4,233.47
Dow (^DJI): -278.52 (-0.82%) to 33,532.88
Nasdaq (^IXIC): -86.85 (-0.68%) to 12,757.91
Crude (CL=F): -$5.32 (-5.21%) to $96.75 a barrel
Gold (GC=F): -$31.40 (-1.62%) to $1,902.90 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^TNX): -9.8 bps to yield 2.808%
7:13 a.m. ET: Coca-Cola tops 1Q expectations
Coca-Cola (KO) reported first-quarter sales and profit that topped Wall Street’s estimates, with broad growth across the beverage giant’s portfolio of brands helping lift results.
Adjusted operating revenue grew 16% over last year to reach $10.5 billion, topping consensus expectations for $9.8 billion, according to Bloomberg data. Company-wide unit case volume — a closely watched measure for Coca-Cola — rose 8%, with growth coming most prominently from the company’s nutrition, juice, dairy and plant-based beverages segment, where unit case volume increased 12%. On the bottom line, comparable earnings per share reached 64 cents versus the 58 cents expected.
For the full year, Coca-Cola said it expects its to see commodity price inflation be in the mid-single digit percentages. It also expected the suspension of its business in Russia to generate a 1% impact to full-year unit case volume, and a 1-2% impact on net revenues and operating income.
7:06 a.m. ET: Stock futures decline, adding to last week’s losses
Here’s where stocks were trading Monday morning:
S&P 500 futures (ES=F): -36.25 (-0.85%) to 4,231.00
Dow futures (YM=F): -270 (-0.8%) to 33,458.00
Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): -106.75 (-0.8%) to 13,246.75
Crude (CL=F): -$4.73 (-4.63%) to $97.34
Gold (GC=F): -$23.10 (-1.19%) to $1,911.20 per ounce
10-year Treasury (^TNX): -6.9 bps to yield 2.837%
Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.