Stock market news live updates: Stocks, oil slide as COVID protests erupt across China

U.S. stocks tumbled Monday as unrest in China over the nation’s restrictive COVID controls weighed on global sentiment and Wall Street returned from a holiday weekend.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) sank 1.2%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) fell nearly 400 points, or 1.1%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) was off by 1.1%. The moves come after a week of modest gains for stocks that saw the S&P 500 rise 1.5%, the Dow 1.8%, and the Nasdaq Composite 0.7% over the three-and-a-half-day trading period curtailed by Thanksgiving.

Investors assessed widespread protests across China’s major cities during the weekend over the country’s Zero-COVID policies. The U.S. dollar gained against other currencies as the yuan slumped. Oil plunged and hit 2022 lows, with West Texas Intermediate crude futures sliding more than 3% to trade below $75 per barrel.

Shares of Apple (AAPL) sank more than 2% Monday on concerns that turmoil in China may pressure a key manufacturing plant in the country and further weigh on already constrained iPhone production. Bloomberg also reported tumult across the country may cause a production shortfall of about 6 million iPhone Pros this year.

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Remarks from St. Louis Fed President James Bullard also dampened the mood on Wall Street Monday after he asserted the U.S. central bank has “a ways to go” on interest rates. Bullard said the federal funds rate needs to be lifted to at least a range between 5.00% and 5.25% to be “sufficiently restrictive” to tame inflation.

Cryptoworld was also in focus Monday following a report by Decrypt indicating digital asset lender BlockFi will file for bankruptcy and lay off staff as the contagion effects of FTX’s collapse continue to permeate the space.

Investors face a barrage of economic data this week as they head into December. The government’s November jobs report, housing data, a second look at third-quarter GDP and PCE inflation are just some of the key releases on tap.

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Just 24 trading days remain in 2022. The Federal Reserve and officials’ path forward for interest rates continue to be the main focus for investors, with the U.S. central bank’s final hike of the year on deck after its next meeting Dec. 13-14.

A man holds white sheets of paper in protest over coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions after a vigil for the victims of a fire in Urumqi, as outbreaks of COVID-19 continue, in Beijing, China, November 28, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
A man holds white sheets of paper in protest over coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions after a vigil for the victims of a fire in Urumqi, as outbreaks of COVID-19 continue, in Beijing, China, November 28, 2022. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Minutes from the Fed’s gathering earlier this month – and a chorus of Fed officials in recent weeks – have suggested a downshift in the size of December’s rate increase is likely as policymakers look towards a “slower but higher” rate regime. Investors are largely expecting an increase of 0.50% to the bank’s overnight interest rate, a markdown from four consecutive 0.75% hikes.

While a deceleration and eventual pivot are highly awaited by equity investors, Wall Street strategists have warned that there is little to be excited about in the new year, even as inflation appears to slow and a pause on tightening nears.

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Goldman Sachs analysts led by David Kostin said in their 2023 outlook that the S&P 500 is likely to end next year around flat, weighed down by the absence of earnings growth across companies.

“​​The performance of U.S. stocks in 2022 was all about a painful valuation de-rating, but the equity story for 2023 will be about the lack of corporate earnings growth,” the team at Goldman Sachs said. “Put simply, zero earnings growth will drive zero appreciation in the stock market.”

Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley warned in its own forecast that the S&P 500 will “tread water,” with material swings along the way, to end 2023 around 3,900.

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