Weak start for stocks as market heads for a weekly loss

Stocks are off to a weak start on Wall Street Friday, led by more drops in chipmakers and other technology companies. The S&P 500 was down 0.3% in the early going, keeping the market benchmark on track for its first weekly loss in the last four. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 0.9% and the Dow Jones Industrials were barely in the red. Treasury yields continued to move higher as traders get accustomed to the Federal Reserve’s ongoing policy pivot to fighting inflation instead of stimulating the economy. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.71%, its highest level in three years.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. markets were poised to open higher Friday as investors cap a week of ups and downs while the Russian bombardment of Ukraine rolls on against a backdrop of global inflation and an ongoing virus pandemic.

On Wall Street, futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4% while futures for the S&P 500 gained 0.3%.

Benchmarks rose in Paris, London and Frankfurt after Asian markets finished higher. Oil prices rose.

Investors have been weighing the latest updates from the U.S. Federal Reserve amid concerns about rising inflation. The Fed has signaled it is prepared to keep raising interest rates and reducing its stockpile of bonds and mortgage-backed securities in order to rein in the highest inflation in 40 years.

“Global appetite for risk in the short-term is still uncertain, with hawkish central banks weighing on sentiment. The situation between Ukraine and Russia continues to be a headwind, with markets now only looking for a major breakthrough to adjust current pricing,” Anderson Alves at ActivTrades said in a commentary.

France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX each jumped 1.4% in early trading, while Britain’s FTSE 100 added 1.1%.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 declined in morning trading but finished 0.4% higher at 26,985.80. South Korea’s Kospi rose 0.2% to 2,700.39. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5% to 7,478.00. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.3% to 21,872.01, while the Shanghai Composite also recouped earlier losses, climbing 0.5% to 3,251.85.

Residents of Shanghai are struggling to get meat, rice and other food supplies under anti-coronavirus controls that have confined most of its 25 million people in their homes as the Chinese government tries to contain a spreading coronavirus outbreak.

In Europe, British travelers faced more disruptions during the Easter holiday break as two major airlines, British Airways and easyJet, canceled about 100 flights Wednesday. The aviation industry is suffering from staff shortages because of both a surge in coronavirus-related staff sickness in the U.K. and a shortage of workers because of pandemic-related job cuts.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 0.4% and the Dow industrials gained 0.3%. The Nasdaq composite added 0.1%. For the week through Thursday’s close, the S&P 500 is down 1%, the Dow is off 0.7% and the Nasdaq has declined 2.6%.

The U.S. central bank is reversing course from low interest rates and the extraordinary support it began providing for the economy two years ago when the pandemic knocked the economy into a recession. It already announced a quarter-percentage-point increase and is expected to keep raising rates throughout the year.

Traders are now pricing in a nearly 80% probability the Fed will raise its key overnight rate by half a percentage point at its next meeting in May. That’s double the usual amount and something the Fed hasn’t done since 2000.

Persistently rising inflation has been threatening economic growth. Business have been raising prices on everything from food to clothing and that has put more pressure on consumers. Some companies have been unable to offset the impact from inflation, even with price hikes, as earnings season opens next week.

Wall Street is concerned about consumers eventually pulling back on spending as higher prices become too difficult to digest. Price increases were responsible for a rise in consumer spending in March. Otherwise, the results revealed a pullback.

A rapid increase in interest rates could also affect corporate earnings growth, though gauging that depends on how aggressive the Fed will be.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also added to concerns about inflation. Energy prices have been particularly volatile and pushed gasoline prices higher.

U.S. benchmark crude added $1.02 to $97.05 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 0.2% on Thursday, but remains up roughly 31% for the year. Brent crude, the international standard for pricing, rose 67 cents to $101.25 a barrel.

In currency trading, the dollar edged up to 124.17 Japanese yen from 123.97 yen. The euro edged up to $1.0862 from $1.0861.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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