Wall Street tumbled on Wednesday, with Target losing a quarter of its stock market value and highlighting worries about the U.S. economy after the retailer became the latest victim of surging prices.
Target Corp’s first-quarter profit fell by half and the company warned of a bigger margin hit on rising fuel and freight costs. Its shares fell over 25% and were tracking their worst day since the Black Monday crash on Oct. 19, 1987.
The retailer’s results come a day after rival Walmart Inc trimmed its profit forecast. The SPDR S&P Retail ETF dropped 8.8%.
“What people are worried about after seeing Target is, will more earnings (estimates) have to be taken down?” said Thomas Hayes, chairman of Great Hill Capital in New York. “Consumer sentiment is at multi-year lows and tied at the hip with inflation. So people are looking for signs of inflation moderating, and Target did not give them any today.”
Interest-rate sensitive megacap growth stocks added to recent declines and pulled the S&P 500 and Nasdaq lower. Tesla Inc lost 7.5%, Nvidia and Amazon both fell more than 6% and Apple and Microsoft each lost over 4%.
“The cons outweigh the pros for growth stocks at this particular moment, and the market is trying to decide how bad it’s going to get,” said Liz Young, head of investment strategy at SoFi. “The market is fearful of the next six months. We may find out that it doesn’t need to be as fearful as this, and markets do tend to overreact on the downside.”
All of the 11 S&P 500 sector indexes declined, with consumer discretionary and consumer staples down 6.8% and 6.0%, respectively.
Rising inflation, the conflict in Ukraine, prolonged supply chain snarls, pandemic-related lockdowns in China and monetary policy tightening by central banks have weighed on financial markets recently, stoking concerns about a global economic slowdown.
Wells Fargo Investment Institute on Wednesday said it expects a mild U.S. recession at the end of 2022 and early 2023.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell vowed on Tuesday that the U.S central bank will raise rates as high as needed to kill a surge in inflation that he said threatened the foundation of the economy.
Traders are pricing in 50-basis point interest rate hikes by the Fed in June and July.
In afternoon trading, the S&P 500 was down 3.79% at 3,933.73 points.
The Nasdaq declined 4.50% to 11,445.19 points, while Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 3.34% at 31,565.46 points.
The S&P 500 is down about 17% so far in 2022 and the Nasdaq has fallen about 27%, hit by tumbling growth stocks.
Wall Street’s recent sell-off has left the S&P 500 trading at around 17 times expected earnings, its lowest PE valuation since the 2020 sell-off caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Refinitiv data.
The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, rose to 30.5 points after falling for six straight sessions.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 5.84-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.67-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted one new 52-week high and 35 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 25 new highs and 189 new lows.