Wall Street ends lower amid rate concerns, higher bond yields

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday amid further gains in Treasury yields and concern over the timing and scale of possible interest rate cuts from the Federal Reserve.

The Dow fell more than 1% and hit its lowest level in nearly a month. All of the S&P 500 sectors ended lower as well, with rate-sensitive utilities among sectors with the biggest declines.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note hit four-week highs at 4.6%, extending Tuesday’s gains, after weak debt auctions.

“You continue to see this rise in bond yields, which is pressuring equities… It’s a continuation of this unstable, uneven recovery,” said James Abate, fund manager of the Centre American Select Equity fund.

Conflicting expectations on the size and the timing of potential interest rate cuts have kept the market on edge since the start of this year.

Sticky inflation and hawkish comments from central bankers have forced traders to temper down rate cut expectations to only one by November or December, per the CME FedWatch Tool, from multiple cuts expected at the start of the year.

Stocks held their losses following the release of the Beige Book, a U.S. Fed survey. It showed U.S. economic activity continued to expand from early April through mid-May, but firms grew more pessimistic about the future while inflation increased at a modest pace.

The S&P 500 lost 39.09 points, or 0.74%, to 5,266.95 while the Nasdaq Composite lost 99.30 points, or 0.58%, to 16,920.58. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 411.32 points, or 1.06%, to 38,441.54.

The main focus this week will be on Friday’s release of April’s Personal Consumption Expenditure data – the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge.

The Nasdaq retreated after closing above the 17,000 mark for the first time on Tuesday, while the small-caps Russell 2000 index fell 1.5%.

After the closing bell, shares of Salesforce were down more than 15% as the company reported results and forecast second quarter revenue below estimates. Salesforce shares ended the regular session up 0.7%.

During the regular session, shares of Marathon Oil advanced 8.4% after ConocoPhillips said it would buy the company in an all-stock deal for a little over its $15 billion market value. ConocoPhillips fell 3.1%. The energy sector dropped 1.8%.

Airline stocks declined, led by American Airlines, which declined 13.5% after the company cut its second-quarter profit forecast.

Dick’s Sporting Goods rose 15.9% after lifting forecasts for annual sales and profit, while Abercrombie & Fitch shot up 24.3% on raised annual sales growth forecast.

On the Nasdaq, declining issues outnumbered advancers by a 2.78-to-1 ratio and a 5.25-to-1 ratio on the NYSE.

The S&P 500 posted 7 new 52-week highs and 16 new lows while the Nasdaq Composite recorded 45 new highs and 149 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 12.24 billion shares, compared with the 12.38 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

(Reporting by Abigail Summerville in New York and Johann M Cherian and Lisa Pauline Mattackal in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Aurora Ellis)

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