The Nasdaq dropped more than 3% Friday, bringing its losses for the month to around 13%, its worst showing since October 2008. The S&P 500 has fallen for four consecutive weeks to drop 8% in April. Both indexes are off to their worst start to a year in decades.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has fallen around 4.3% this month.
The punishing declines in tech and growth stocks mark a dramatic shift from recent years. Throughout the month, investors have ditched shares of some of the biggest tech companies, which had been stock-market darlings for much of the past decade and led the market higher from its March 2020 lows. Within just a few months, some of the most reliable winners of the past few years have morphed into losers.
Worries about the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, soaring inflation and the path of the economy have brought stocks sharply lower from the records they kicked off the year with. Many pandemic-era winners have also come falling back to earth as consumer tastes have evolved since 2020. Recently, earnings season has been dotted with some high-profile disappointments from the group, delivering headspinning moves after the reports.
“We’re going into a higher volatility regime, when fundamentals matter again,” said Aashish Vyas, investment director at Resonanz Capital. “It does seem like we are at a systemic shift.”
The FAANG stocks, consisting of the popular quintet of Facebook-parent Meta Platforms, Apple, Amazon.com, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet, have collectively lost more than $1 trillion in market value this month, the most since Facebook started trading in May 2012.
The Nasdaq Composite has been trading at levels not seen since 2020, with more than a year of gains wiped off the tech-heavy gauge. Some individual tech stocks, such as Netflix and Nvidia, were recently headed toward their worst month in at least a decade.
Investors say they will be tracking the next batch of earnings results in coming days for signs of slowing growth. So far, corporate profits are on track to rise 7% for the quarter, according to FactSet, the lowest year-over-year earnings growth rate since the last quarter of 2020.
There have been some high-profile disappointments.
Amazon shares fell 15% in afternoon trading, on track for the biggest one-day drop since at least 2014 and bringing its losses for the year to 26%. The company posted its first quarterly loss in seven years—a result that reflected broad economic trends related to a slump in online shopping, higher costs from inflation and supply-chain woes, and market jitters over electric-vehicle startups.
Apple cautioned Thursday that the resurgence of Covid-19 in China threatens to hinder sales by as much as $8 billion in the current quarter. Shares were down about 2% in recent trading and have lost around 10% for the year. Last week, Netflix shares tumbled more than 30% after the earnings report showed the company lost subscribers. Moves in large technology companies can have outsize impacts on major stock indexes due to their higher weighting relative to other stocks.
In the bond market, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note is on track to notch its biggest monthly gain since 2009. It recently hovered at 2.906%. These higher yields have dented the allure of tech and growth stocks, making shares of firms whose profits may lie further out in time less attractive.
For much of the month, many traders and market watchers also remained fixated on the drama surrounding Twitter, as Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk took a stake in the company and then reached a deal to buy it. The tweets and negotiations throughout the process spurred intense volatility in shares of both companies. Twitter shares are up 29% this month, while Tesla shares have shed 16%.
Many investors have grown more concerned about a recession, driving swings across global markets. The war in Ukraine has driven commodity prices higher when inflation has already been at a 40-year high. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has embarked on a path to raise interest rates, but it faces an especially tricky path to tame inflation while not substantially raising unemployment.
“There’s this massive escalation of recession fears,” said Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group. But, he said “I think there’s a lot more fear there than is probably necessary.”
The latest gross domestic product data showed that the economy recently contracted for the first time since early in the pandemic. The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the personal-consumption-expenditures index measure of core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose 5.2% in March from one year earlier. U.S. consumer spending for March increased 1.1% from the prior month.
“The reality is that weeks into this lockdown, we’re going back to supply-chain disruptions which could impact inflation and which could put central banks in tough positions,” said Esty Dwek, chief investment officer at FlowBank. “We’d seen the beginning of improvements in supply chains but that’s likely to reverse if these lockdowns in China last longer.”
Some investors said that shares of some tech companies looked attractive after the recent selloff, and they would consider stepping in to buy shares.
The giant swings haven’t been contained to just tech stocks. Investors around the globe have also been alarmed by the dramatic moves in assets from currencies to bonds.
In currency markets, the dollar has been soaring while the yen has been crashing. The yen, a typical safehaven for investors around the globe, has been tumbling to a 20-year-low against the dollar, upending the typical dynamics across global markets and stirring unease among investors.
The WSJ Dollar Index has strengthened this year in anticipation of Fed rate increases, which are expected to happen faster and more aggressively than in the eurozone and Japan.
Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 added 0.7%.
In Asia, Alibaba and other Chinese technology stocks jumped by double-digit percentages on investor hopes that China’s government would do more to support the sector and the wider economy. The surge helped Chinese shares recoup some of their recent losses, while the yuan also clawed back some ground against the dollar after selling off sharply in recent sessions.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 4%. The Shanghai Composite index rose 2.4%.