Wall Street fell on Tuesday, a day after a roller-coaster session when the stock market fell as much as 4 percent before a staging a late-day bounce back.
The S&P 500 dropped 2 percent in early trading, while the Nasdaq composite was about 2.5 percent lower.
On Monday, the S&P 500 ended with a 0.3 percent gain, but not before plunging to a point at which it was more than 10 percent below its Jan. 3 record. That kind of drop, called a correction, doesn’t happen often, and is a marker of investors’ souring attitudes toward stocks. The last time the S&P 500 was in a correction was March 2020, when fear over the emerging coronavirus pandemic gripped global markets.
Investors are keenly waiting to learn more about the Federal Reserve’s plans to combat inflation, as the central bank begins a two-day meeting on Tuesday to discuss what’s next. The central bank is expected to raise interest rates in March and do so again several times this year; concern about the effect that might have on corporate profits, stock valuations and the broader economy has loomed over markets this month.
Policymakers are likely to lay out more details on their plan to pull back on economic stimulus to gain greater control of inflation. Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell will hold a news conference on Wednesday.
“The markets really want to have a clear understanding of what the Fed’s going to do and how fast they’re going to do it,” said Lindsey Bell, the chief money and markets strategist at Ally Invest. “Volatility will persist until that larger clarity is truly understood.”
On Monday, the threat of military action in Europe, where the West is warning of a possible incursion into Ukraine by Russia, also pushed down major indexes. A conflict could endanger energy supplies for Western Europe.
European markets rebounded on Tuesday, with the Stoxx Europe 600 up 0.7 percent after dropping nearly 4 percent Monday. Asian stocks caught up with Monday’s plunge on Wall Street. The Nikkei closed 1.7 percent lower, and the Shanghai Composite fell 2.6 percent.
With technology stocks leading the market sell-off, investors are also watching quarterly earnings reports to be released this week. Microsoft will report its financial performance for the last three months of the year after the markets close on Tuesday; Apple will publish its earnings report on Thursday.