Stocks fall in volatile trading, extending Thursday’s sell-off

Stocks lost ground in volatile trading on Friday, as investors struggled to find support after the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted its worst day since 2020.

The S&P 500 shed 0.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite fell nearly 1%. The Dow was down 219 points, or about 0.7%.

The moves came after stocks sold off sharply on Thursday. The Dow lost more than 1,000 points, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell nearly 5%. Both indexes notched their worst single-day drops since 2020. The S&P 500 fell 3.56%, its second-worst day of the year.

Thursday’s losses erased Wednesday’s big post-Federal Reserve meeting rally. Fed Chair Jerome Powell ruled out the prospect of larger rate hikes on Wednesday, sending the S&P 500 and the Dow to their best daily gains since 2020.

“The widely anticipated relief rally seen in equities and bonds post the ‘less hawkish than feared’ Fed on Wednesday was short lived,” Barclays strategist Emmanuel Cau said in a note to clients. “Although aggressive 75bp hikes going forward may be off the table, the implied policy tightening cycle ahead is still very hawkish, in our view. Unless surging inflation quickly reverses its course (watch US CPI print next Wednesday), central banks may have no other choice than slowing growth to slow inflation and stay credible.”

Technology stocks bore the brunt of Thursday’s fall, with cloud companies, e-retailers and mega-cap names seeing steep declines.

The largest stocks in the market shuffled between gains and losses on Friday. Shares of Amazon and Apple each held on to slight gains, while Alphabet and Microsoft dipped.

Energy was a bright spot for the market, with EOG Resources jumping 5%.

Speculative areas of the market such as biotech and solar energy were hit hard on Friday. Illumina dropped more than 12%, while Enphase Energy fell 6%.

Moves in the Treasury market appeared to be impacting equities on Friday. The 10-year Treasury yield rose above 3.12% for the first time since 2018, coinciding with early declines for stocks, but eased back from that level later in the session.

On the earnings front, shares of Under Armour dropped more than 22% after the apparel company missed estimates on the top and bottom lines. That appeared to hurt rival Nike, whose shares dropped more than 3% and weighed on the Dow.

Insurance stock Cigna jumped more than 4% after a better-than-expected quarterly report.

The losses Friday came despite an April jobs report that showed a gain of 428,000 jobs, more than the 400,000 expected by economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

One weak area of the report was the labor force participation rate, which was little changed month over month and remains 1.2 percentage points below its pre-pandemic level. Economists believe that a recovery in participation could help stem the rise in wages and, by extension, inflation.

“If we are to get a soft landing, we are going to have to see a recovery in participation at a pretty rapid clip,” said Luke Bartholomew, senior economist at Abrdn.

The losses on Friday put the three major indexes in danger of finishing lower for the week despite starting with three straight positive sessions.

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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