Dow ends nearly 350 points lower after strong economic data, bearish comments by David Tepper fuel worry about rate hikes

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U.S. stocks ended well off session lows but still fell sharply, after a round of upbeat economic data and a warning from hedge-fund titan David Tepper that he was “leaning short” against both stocks and bonds on expectations the Federal Reserve and other central banks will continue tightening into 2023.

Positive economic news can be a negative for stocks by underlining expectations that monetary policy makers will remain aggressive in their efforts to quash inflation.

What happened
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.05% fell 348.99 points, or 1.1%, to finish at 33,027.49.
  • The S&P 500 SPX, -1.45% shed 56.05 points, or 1.5%, to end at 3,822.39.
  • The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -2.18% fell 233.25 points, or 2.2%, to finish at 10,476.12.

On Wednesday, all three major indexes recorded their best gain in three weeks as the Dow advanced 526.74 points.

What drove markets

Investors saw another raft of strong economic data Thursday, including a revised reading on third-quarter gross domestic product which showed the U.S. economy expanded more quickly than previously believed. Growth was revised up to 3.2%, up from 2.9% from the previous update released last month.

The number of Americans who applied for unemployment benefits in the week before Christmas rose slightly to 216,000, but new filings remained low and signaled the labor market is still quite strong. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast new claims would total 220,000 in the seven days ending Dec 17.

“Jobless claims ticking slightly up but coming in below expectations could be a sign that the Fed’s wish of a slowing labor market will have to wait until 2023,” said Mike Loewengart, head of model portfolio construction at Morgan Stanley Global Investment Office, in emailed comments.

“It’s no surprise to see the market take a breather today after yesterday’s rally as investors parse through earnings data, and despite some beats this week, expectations that earnings will remain as resilient in 2023 may be overblown,” he wrote.

Appaloosa Management’s Tepper shared a cautious outlook for markets based on the expectation that central bankers around the world will continue hiking interest rates.

“I would probably say I’m leaning short on the equity markets right now because the upside-downside doesn’t make sense to me when I have so many people, so many central banks, telling me what they are going to do, what they want to do, what they expect to do,” Tepper said in a CNBC interview.

Key Words: Billionaire investor David Tepper would ‘lean short’ on stock market because central banks are saying ‘what they’re going to do’

The S&P 500’s information technology sector led the losses with semiconductor stocks such as Micron Technology Inc. MU, -3.44% and Lam Research Corporation  LRCX, -8.65% finished 3.4% and 8.7% lower, respectively.

Micron Technology said its revenue dropped by nearly half to $4.09 billion amid a fall in prices for its products, while reported a loss of $195 million for the quarter. The memory-chip specialist also disclosed that it plans to cut about 10% of its staff in 2023.

“I think that report really put investors on their heels that cyclical cycle that turned on retail is suffering badly. And I think it was just another signpost of the very fragile nature of the state of the economy at the moment,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott.

See: Wall Street’s stock-market forecasts for 2022 were off by the widest margin since 2008: Will next year be any different?

In other economic data news, the U.S. leading index fell a sharp 1% in November, suggesting that the U.S. economy is heading toward a downturn.

Read: Is the stock market open on Monday after Christmas Day?

Single-stock movers

— Steve Goldstein contributed reporting

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