US stocks slump on rate worries, Amazon result

US markets finished sharply lower on Friday, as Amazon slumped following a gloomy quarterly report, and as the biggest surge in monthly inflation since 2005 spooked investors already worried about rising interest rates.

Amazon tumbled in its steepest one-day drop since 2006, leaving the widely held stock near two-year lows. Late on Thursday, the e-commerce giant delivered a disappointing quarter and outlook, swamped by higher costs to run its warehouses and deliver packages.

Apple, the world’s most valuable company, dropped after its disappointing outlook overshadowed record quarterly profit and sales.

Downbeat results and worries about aggressive monetary policy tightening by the Federal Reserve have hammered megacap technology and growth stocks this month.

“Market participants are nervous to begin with, so there is a quick trigger when it comes to these names when there’s any uncertainty,” said Keith Buchanan, senior portfolio manager at Globalt Investments in Atlanta. “When assumptions about these companies’ growth fail to materialize, then there’s definitely a ‘shoot first and ask questions later’ mentality.”

The Nasdaq has lost around 13 percent in April, its worst monthly performance since the global financial crisis in 2008.

Adding to worries on Wall Street, data showed the personal consumption expenditures price index – the Fed’s favoured measure of inflation – shot up 0.9 percent in March after climbing 0.5 percent in February.

The Fed is set to meet next week, with traders betting on a 50-basis-point rate hike to combat surging inflation.

Signs of aggressive monetary policy tightening, the Ukraine conflict and China’s Covid lockdowns have fueled fears of an economic slowdown. Data on Thursday showed the US economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter.

The S&P 500 finished at 4,131, down 3.6 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 2.8 percent to 32,977, while the Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 4.2 percent to 12,334.

Exxon Mobil slipped after it took a us$3.4 billion writedown due to its exit from Russia. Chevron Corp dropped after its first-quarter profit underwhelmed. (Reuters)