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Stocks fall slightly to start the week following two weeks of gains, Dow down 200

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Traders on the floor of the NYSE, March 25, 2022.
Source: NYSE

The major averages fell slightly on Monday as investors took a pause following two straight weeks of gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 200 points, dragged down by losses in JPMorgan and Chevron. The S&P 500 dropped about 0.3%. The technology-focused Nasdaq Composite dipped slightly.

Parts of the Treasury yield curve inverted, raising some recession concerns. Earlier on Monday, the yield on the 5-year Treasury note rose to 2.6361%, while the 30-year yield was down less than 1 basis point to 2.6004%.

However, the main yield spread that traders watch — the spread between the 2-year and the 10-year rate — remained positive for now.

Bank stocks ticked lower on Monday as the yield curve flattened. JPMorgan lost 1.9% and Wells Fargo fell 2.7%. Goldman Sachs and Bank of American lost 1% each.

Investors continue to monitor developments in Russia’s war on Ukraine. Peace talks between the two nations are set to continue this week, with delegations from both countries traveling to Turkey on Monday. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that discussions were likely to resume Tuesday.

Oil prices fell on Monday following their recent surge due to the geopolitical conflict. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures slid 9% to trade around $105. Brent crude futures traded 7%, lower at $111 per barrel.

Elsewhere on Monday, shares of Tesla popped more than 5% on news it wants to split its stock so it can pay a stock dividend to shareholders.

Other technology stocks like Netflix and Microsoft rose 1% each. Zoom Video rose more than 3%.

The Dow and S&P 500 rose on Friday to close out their second consecutive winning week. The Dow gained 153 points, or 0.4%. The S&P 500 advanced 0.5% and has more than erased its losses since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite dipped 0.2% but still finished the week in the green.

“Geopolitical risks remain very elevated and the rally in equities over the past two weeks is impressive. The U.S. economy is still in good shape, but buying every stock market dip probably won’t be the attitude for most traders going forward given how hawkish the Fed has turned,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda.

Investors continue to keep a close eye on the Fed. Wall Street firms from Goldman Sachs to Bank of America penciled in half-point hikes in future Fed meetings this year after the central bank’s chair Jerome Powell vowed to be tough on inflation and said rate increases could become more aggressive if necessary.

The closely watched monthly jobs report release happens on Friday. Economists expect 460,000 jobs were added in March and the unemployment rate fell to 3.7%, according to Dow Jones. That compares to the 678,000 nonfarm payrolls added in February and an unemployment rate of 3.8%.

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