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By Lewis Krauskopf, Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Praveen Paramasivam
April 5 (Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes fell on Tuesday, dragged by weakness in tech and other growth stocks, after comments from Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard spooked investors about potential aggressive actions by the central bank to control inflation.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq .IXIC posted its biggest daily percentage drop in about a month, with declines in heavyweight stocks such as Apple Inc AAPL.O and Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O.
At a conference on Tuesday, Brainard said she expects methodical interest rate increases and rapid reductions to the Fed’s balance sheet to bring U.S. monetary policy to a “more neutral position” later this year, with further tightening to follow as needed. nL2N2W3162
Brainard’s comments “drove home the point that the Fed is poised to get more aggressive,” said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco.
“That is certainly having a negative effect on equities because of concerns that this increases the probability of a recession,” Hooper said. “It’s going to be increasingly difficult for the Fed to engineer a soft landing the more aggressive it gets.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 280.7 points, or 0.8%, to 34,641.18, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 57.52 points, or 1.26%, to 4,525.12 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 328.39 points, or 2.26%, to 14,204.17.
Among S&P 500 sectors, technology .SPLRCT slumped 2.2% while consumer discretionary .SPLRCD fell 2.4%. The utilities sector .SPLRCU rose 0.7%.
U.S. Treasury yields rose to multi-year highs with yields taking off after Brainard’s comments. nL2N2W31L1
The prospect of a more hawkish Fed led to a rocky start to the year for equities and in particular for tech and growth shares whose valuations stand to be more pressured by higher bond yields. Stocks have rebounded in recent weeks, with the S&P 500 now down about 5% so far this year.
Focus on the Fed will continue on Wednesday, when the central bank releases minutes of its March meeting.
“For the rest of this week, the market will be driven by interest rates and it will be driven by the Fed’s comments about interest rates,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Investors also remain focused on the Ukraine crisis, which has led to rising commodity prices that stand to worsen an already-worrisome inflationary picture. nL5N2W25PF
In economic news, data showed U.S. services industry activity picked up in March, boosted by the rolling back of pandemic restrictions, but businesses continued to face higher costs as supply strains persisted. nN9N2TD019
In company news, shares of Twitter Inc TWTR.N gained 2%, adding to their prior-day surge, as the social media company said it will offer Tesla CEO and entrepreneur Elon Musk a seat on its board of directors. nL3N2W31MV
Carnival Corp CCL.N shares rose 2.4% after the cruise operator reported its highest booking week in its history. nL2N2W31IS nL3N2W318G
Shares of Spirit Airlines SAVE.N soared 22.5% after reports that JetBlue Airways JBLU.O has made an offer to buy Spirit. nL3N2W3293
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 4.33-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.96-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 42 new 52-week highs and 8 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 55 new highs and 100 new lows.
About 11.4 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the roughly 13 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.
(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York, Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru
Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Matthew Lewis and David Gregorio)
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This article originally appeared on reuters.com