Wall Street stocks nosedive, small caps verge on bear market signal

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Wall Street stocks nosedive, small caps verge on bear market signal

(Reuters) – The prospect of a Russian attack on Ukraine and worries about the Federal Reserve moving aggressively to tighten policy sent Wall Street into a tailspin on Monday, with the Nasdaq closing in on a line that would signal it has been in a bear market since peaking in November.

The skid in the small-cap Russell 2000 index put it down more than 20% from its record closing high on Nov 8, which if it holds at Monday’s close would meet the official criteria for a bear market. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 17.5% from it’s Nov 19 record close.

The S&P 500 was more than 10% below it’s record close on Jan 3, which if it holds until the market close would mean it has been in a correction since that date.

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MARKET REACTION:

* STOCKS: Dow down 1.99%, S&P 500 down 2.30%, Nasdaq down 2.51%, Russell 2000 down 0.87%

* BONDS: The yield on benchmark 10-year notes fell to 1.6625[US/]

* FOREX: The dollar index rose 0.225% [FRX/]

* VIX: The VIX was up 21.4% and touched its highest level since Oct 2020

COMMENTS:

MARC CHANDLER, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, BANNOCKBURN GLOBAL FOREX

“Given people have lost money, whether it’s in crypto or the stock market, people want to find a culprit and I think that people are torn between two possible candidates: the Federal Reserve and Russia.

“I’m skeptical that all of this is Russia driven. But it doesn’t mean when the first shots are fired, there won’t be a dramatic market reaction.

“Gold has rallied but it’s coming off its highs after peaking last Thursday. Oil prices also are reversing. Oil is having what they call an outside down day. It traded on both sides of Friday’s range, and now is below Friday’s low.”

BURNS MCKINNEY, PORTFOLIO MANAGER, NFJ INVESTMENT GROUP, DALLAS

“It seems that we get this every time we go through a Fed tightening cycle, but this just seems more of the same as the stock market is starting to price in the Fed basically concluding its taper and beginning interest rate hikes.”

“You have seen more and more with inflation continuing to prove to be more resilient than had previously been anticipated. Last year, the key word was transitory, transitory, transitory … Everything ends, but I think people weren’t really pricing in inflation being as sticky as it has.”

“Poll numbers have shown that Americans are more concerned about inflation than they are about jobs. You don’t see that very often. As such, the talk has gone from the market pricing in the Fed starting to maybe hike one or two times this year, to hiking three or four times this year, and now it’s looking like it is even pricing in an outside chance of five hikes this year, and there has been some discussion about whether you can have a double boost in March. Each of those steps along the way, the market has kind of pulled back a little bit to price that in.”

DAVID MADDEN, MARKET ANALYST, EQUITI CAPITAL, LONDON

“Traders continue to be in selling mode as fears mount surrounding the Russia-Ukraine situation. Also playing into the mix are the concerns the Federal Reserve will issue a hawkish update on Wednesday. The growing Russian military presence on the Ukrainian border is adding to the speculation there will be an invasion, and those fears have been fueled by the news that UK and US embassy staff in Ukraine have been instructed to leave the country. Dealers are worried about the prospect of a war in Eastern Europe as the human and economic cost would be huge.”

“Its déjà vu in the US as worries about several interest rate hikes from the Fed this year is hammering stocks. The NASDAQ 100 is once again the underperformer of the bunch as its large exposure to the technology sector is acting like a millstone around its neck. The US central bank is due to make their latest interest rate decision on Wednesday, and even though rates are likely to be lifted, the language used will be in focus. Dealers will be trying to decipher the commentary to try and figure out how rate hikes can we expect in 2022.”

PETER CARDILLO, CHIEF MARKET ECONOMIST, SPARTAN CAPITAL SECURITIES, NEW YORK

“In the past half hour, panic selling is moving into the marketplace based on a bad combination of factors. The two factors that are really weighing on investor sentiment are the geopolitical situation as winds of war surface and fears that the Fed up may be overly aggressive this week.”

“Today’s sharp drop is due to the geopolitical reasons because if you look at two markets that are going opposite of the other markets, you have the U.S. dollar which is moving higher and you have yields that are moving lower, so that means people are moving into safety trade.”

(Compiled by the Global Finance & Markets Breaking News team)