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S&P 500 is flat, headed for a losing week to start 2022 on spiking rates

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The S&P 500 fell on Friday at the end of a rough week for markets, which have come under pressure because of a spike in rates to begin 2022. Tech shares have led the losses.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped another 0.8% on Friday. The S&P 500 lost 0.3%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 99 points, or about 0.2%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is on track for its worst week since February 2021, down more than 4% in the first five trading days of 2022. The S&P 500 is off by 1.8%, while the Dow is down only slightly as investors rotated into some value stocks amid the rise in rates.

“The stock market is undergoing somewhat of a transition right now, after a very strong 2021,” said Jay Pestrichelli, CEO of ZEGA Financial. “We are seeing more volatility in individual stocks compared to the indexes, and we are seeing a change in leadership in the market, as investors reconsider the high flying tech stocks of 2021 as interest rates rise.”

The 10-year Treasury yield topped 1.79% on Friday, continuing its amazing 2022 run from a 2021 year-end level of just 1.51%. The release of the Federal Reserve’s December meeting minutes on Wednesday were the major catalyst for the rate move. The meeting notes showed the central bank is ready to dial back its economic help at a faster rate than some had anticipated, including taking steps to shrink its balance sheet while raising rates.

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“A shift in Fed policy often injects volatility into markets,” said Keith Lerner, chief market strategist at Truist.

Tech stocks lost ground further on Friday as yields jumped, continuing a theme of the week as investors rotate out of the sector. With rates rising rapidly, investors are dumping riskier stocks trading on high valuations based on estimates of profit growth far off in the future.

Chipmakers Nvidia and Microchip Technology were among the biggest decliners in the Nasdaq, both down about 3%. Netflix fell about 2% and Twilio lost about 3%.

On Friday, the Labor Department reported the U.S. economy added far fewer jobs in December than expected. The nonfarm payrolls report showed an increase of 199,000 in December, though economists had expected growth of 422,000, according to Dow Jones.

While the headline number disappointed, there were some things in this jobs report that pointed to an improving economic picture and higher inflation. Average hourly earnings increased by 0.6%, above expectations. And the unemployment rate fell to 3.9%, the lowest level since Feb 2020 and well below the 4.1% expected.

So after some digestion following the jobs report, yields continued their march higher.

Software stocks are among the hardest hit shares this week amid the rotation out of tech, with Salesforce, Adobe and Twilio all down about 10% for the week. Nearly all megacap tech stocks were set for a losing week. Netflix has lost 9% for the week, Microsoft has fallen 7% and Alphabet is down about 5%.

Elsewhere, GameStop shares jumped more than 6% following news that the company is venturing into the crypto world with investments in a marketplace for nonfungible tokens and digital currency partnerships to create games and other items.

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