May’s final session was a fitting one for a wild month, with the major indexes swinging up and down Tuesday before closing in the red.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller said during a speech in Germany that he expects 50-basis-point interest-rate increases to continue into the later part of the year – a departure from previous dovish statements from Fed members suggesting hikes of that magnitude would be limited to the next two summer meetings.
That sent bond yields spiking Tuesday, with the 10-year Treasury yield reaching as high as 2.88%.
“It is really too bad that the Fed can’t learn to speak with one voice on this,” says Dean Smith, portfolio manager and chief strategist of investment technology platform FolioBeyond. “The constant seesaw from hawkish to dovish is increasing uncertainty in the market and in the economy. The ‘buy-the-dip’ mentality that has been nurtured in a generation of investors is being supported and encouraged by these carelessly dovish Fed speakers. In the end, all it does is make their job harder.”
Also Tuesday, the Federal Reserve’s preferred gauge of inflation – the core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index – rose by 4.9% year-over-year and 0.34% month-over-month, which was more than expected.
“The April increase represents the third month of more muted, but still solid, increases,” UBS analysts note.
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The consumer discretionary (+0.5%) and communication services (-0.1%) sectors were the best performers in a largely down day. That was largely thanks to Amazon.com (AMZN, +4.4%), whose shareholders on Friday approved a 20-for-1 AMZN stock split set to take effect June 6; that lifted spirits at Alphabet (GOOGL, +1.3%), which intends on executing its own 20-for-1 GOOGL/GOOG stock split in July. (Indeed, 2022 is shaping up to be quite a busy year for stock splits.)
That helped the Nasdaq Composite deliver the smallest loss among the major indexes Tuesday: a 0.4% decline to 12,081. However, the tech-heavy index posted a 2.1% decline for the entire month. The S&P 500 (-0.6% to 4,132) finished May marginally higher, however, as did the Dow Jones Industrial Average (-0.7% to 32,990).
Other news in the stock market today:
- The small-cap Russell 2000 slid 1.3% to 1,864.
- Gold futures declined 0.5% to $1,848.40 ounce, clinching the yellow metal’s second consecutive monthly decline.
- U.S. crude oil futures was down 0.4% to $114.67 per barrel, good for a …….