Stocks on Wall Street slid further on Monday as new data from China raised fresh concerns about the outlook for the global economy for investors already wary of high inflation, rising interest rates and continuing supply chain disruptions.
The S&P 500 fell 1.7 percent in early trading, adding to a five-week stretch of declines that has knocked the index down nearly 14 percent through Friday.
China’s exports slowed significantly in April, as the country’s lockdowns continued to idle millions of workers. Exports of Chinese steel, a barometer of global growth, are unlikely to improve much in May, according to analysts at S&P Global, a research firm.
The retreat on Wall Street followed sharp declines in global markets. The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 1.8 percent, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 3.8 percent.
Oil prices slumped. Brent crude, the global benchmark fell about 2.6 percent to 109.43 a barrel, and West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, was down 2.8 percent, to about 6 106.65.
Stocks have been battered for the past several weeks as investors contend with higher interest rates, which the Federal Reserve began to raise from near zero in March, and further disruptions to the supply chain. The S&P 500 is coming off its fifth consecutive weekly decline, its longest streak of losses since June 2011.
On Friday, the latest data on hiring in the United States set off concerns over how the Fed will move forward with tightening monetary policy. Wall Street was rocky all week, with indexes swinging between momentary gains and losses and government bond yields reaching levels above 3 percent.
Bond yields, a proxy for investor expectations about interest rates, were little changed on Monday. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes remained at 3.1 percent.
In 2021, there was seemingly no bad news that could stop the US stock market, with the S&P 500 gaining 26.9 percent. What’s more, trading was remarkably placid given the uncertainty around the coronavirus.
But the volatility and losses that have gone hand in hand with recessions are back.
In 2021, the index had a daily gain or loss of more than 2.5 percent just once, on Jan. 27, as meme stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment spiked in a speculative frenzy and the Federal Reserve said a resurgent coronavirus was weighing on the economic recovery.
Already this year there have been seven days with gains or losses of at least 2.5 percent – about one in every 12 trading days. All of those big daily changes have been in March, April and May.
Strings of big gains and losses are more typical of recessions and the periods that follow them. Before the pandemic wreaked havoc on the stock market in 2020, the last string of big changes was in 2007-11, during the financial crisis and the recovery from it. Before that, the dot-com boom and bust, and the Sept. 11 attacks, brought volatility.
Outside such major events, it’s more common to have just a few big changes each year. There have been even many years with no such big moves: 10 in the past 30 years.