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Market Coverage: Tuesday January 25 Yahoo Finance

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Market Coverage: Tuesday January 25 Yahoo Finance

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U.S. stocks extended their losses at the start of Tuesday’s session as investors await the Federal Reserve’s policy-setting meeting amid worries over fast-approaching rate hikes and a lackluster start to earnings season.

All three major indexes were down more than 1% at open, continuing a weekslong losing streak for equities. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 300 points, while the S&P 500 dipped 1.26%. The Nasdaq Composite declined 1.39% to start the day.

The downward momentum in stocks has been fueled by escalating worries around monetary policy as the Federal Reserve looks to intervene on rising inflation levels more aggressively than previously anticipated with tighter policy and rate hikes. Investors are bracing for the central bank’s January monetary policy meeting, set to begin today, followed by a new monetary statement and press conference with Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday.

“The Fed is in a very tough spot,” MJP Wealth Advisors President Brian Vendig told Yahoo Finance Live. “They know history has shown that if they move too quickly on interest rates, it adds to the risk of moving the economy into a slowdown and the risk of a recession.”

The CBOE volatility index, or VIX, closed Monday at about 29.90 after crossing above 37 in intraday trading, its highest level since November 2020. In their newsletter, Nicholas Colas and Jessica Rabe of DataTrek Research sounded the alarm on recent jumps by the so-called “fear gauge.” The VIX closed last week’s trading at 29 to pass the initial 28 level DataTrek deemed significant, or “the first statistically valid level of market panic.” In Monday’s session, the VIX hovered around 38 before retreating, briefly passing the next level the firm said to watch for: 36.

“If you are trading this market, we continue to advise caution,” the DataTrek founders said. “Clarity on Fed policy will not come until Wednesday’s FOMC meeting, and even then, commentary from the Fed and Chair Powell may be insufficient to calm investors.”

With corporate earnings underway, stock watchers looking to fourth-quarter reports for relief from inflation jitters have found little reason for optimism so far. Goldman Sachs chief U.S. equity strategist David Kostin pointed out that of 64 S&P 500 companies that have reported results since the season began, a slightly below average 52% have beaten analyst consensus earnings estimates.

More concerning, according to Goldman, is a lack of guidance from companies amid unpredictable inflation and COVID-related conditions.

“Investors are most interested in forward-looking guidance from management, and recent information on that front has been concerning,” Kostin said. “Five of the six S&P 500 firms that provided formal 1Q 2022 guidance following 4Q results lowered expectations.”

LPL Financial equity strategist Jeff Buchbinder had a more upbeat take: pointing out that despite supply chain disruptions, wage and other cost pressures, and the Omicron COVID-19 variant, with the S&P 500 constituents that reported so far, index earnings are still tracking to 5% upside, in line with the long-term historical average.

“The volatility we’ve seen this year is uncomfortable, but it is well within the range of normal based on history,” Buchbinder wrote in a note.

“The S&P 500 has averaged three pullbacks of 5% or more per year and one correction of at least 10% per year over its long history,” he said. “After just one 5% dip last year, and huge gains off the 2020 lows, we were due for a dip.”

9:55 a.m. ET: IMF cuts world growth forecast, citing Omicron’s impact
The International Monetary Fund lowered its economic forecasts for the United States, China and the global economy, indicated uncertainty about the pandemic, inflation, supply disruptions and U.S. monetary tightening have placed a dent in the agency’s outlook.

“We project global growth this year at 4.4%, 0.5 percentage point lower than previously forecast, mainly because of downgrades for the United States and China,” Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s No. 2 official, wrote in a blog on the latest update of the World Economic Outlook.

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