Wall St ends lower as taper acceleration worries pile onto virus angst



(For a Reuters live blog on U.S., UK and European stock markets, click LIVE/ or type LIVE/ in a news window)

* Communications services, utilities lead sector declines

* Technology sector loses least with help from Apple rally

* Fed's Powell floats accelerated bond-buying taper

* U.S. consumer confidence ebbs in November

* Indexes down: Dow 1.86%, S&P 1.90%, Nasdaq 1.55%

By Devik Jain, Ambar Warrick and Sinéad Carew

Nov 30 (Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes closed lower on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell signaled that the U.S. central bank would consider speeding up its withdrawal of bond purchases as inflation risks increase, piling pressure onto a market already nervous about the latest COVID-19 variant.

In a testimony before the Senate Banking Committee, Powell indicated that he no longer considers high inflation as "transitory" and that the Fed would revisit the timeline for scaling back its bond buying program at its next meeting in two weeks.

"Powell's comments threw a monkey in the wrench in market thinking in terms of potential taper timing. You're seeing as a result of that, risk-off across the board," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

"You also have to factor in the Omicron variant concerns. You can argue whether they're more headline risk or reality risk but regardless, it's having a significant impact on oil, and everything that's tied to economic growth."

Powell's comments also prompted speculation among some investors about a potential acceleration in interest rate hikes.

"The principal contributor to the decline in stock prices today is the Powell commentary, regarding the upcoming Fed meeting, about accelerating the tapering of their bond buying program, which obviously leads to the prospect that rate hikes come sooner next year," said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

"That somewhat hawkish shift in tone caught the market flatfooted," Luschini said.

Meanwhile, the market was also left waiting for information about how dangerous the Omicron variant might be, the degree to which current vaccinations could offer protection and the additional restrictions governments might have to impose that could hurt the economy, Luschini said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 652.22 points, or 1.86%, to 34,483.72, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 88.27 points, or 1.90%, to 4,567 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 245.14 points, or 1.55%, to 15,537.69.

For the month, the S&P registered a decline of 0.8%, while the Dow dropped 3.7% and the Nasdaq eked out a 0.25% gain.

Only seven of the benchmark S&P 500 components gained ground on Tuesday.

For the day, all the 11 major S&P industry sectors fell with seven of those sectors falling more than 2%. Communication services .SPLRCL lead the losses with a 3% drop followed by Utilities' .SPLRCU 2.9% drop. As oil prices tumbled, energy .SPNY were under pressure throughout the session, closing down 2.5%.

The top performer was information technology .SPLRCT , falling just 0.96%, with help from Apple Inc AAPL.O , which boasted a recording closing high and a 3.2% gain for the day.

Tuesday's decline was a sharp reversal after Monday's rally in which stocks regained some ground they had lost on Friday when the market sold-off swiftly on news of the virus variant.

"The market is clearly in some treacherous waters right now. You've had two significant pullbacks out of the last three trading days. This is certainly shaking some of the complacent longs in the market," said Wedbush's James.

While the Food and Drug Administration said it hopes to have information about the effectiveness of current COVID-19 vaccines against Omicron, vaccine companies were divided.

BioNTech's 22UAy.DE chief executive said the vaccine his company supplies in partnership with Pfizer PFE.N will likely offer strong protection from severe illness in variant cases. But Moderna Inc's MRNA.O CEO told the Financial Times that COVID-19 shots are unlikely to be as effective against the new variant as they have been previously.

Moderna shares fell 4.4% while Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc REGN.O lost 2.7% after it said its COVID-19 antibody treatment and other similar drugs could be less effective against Omicron.

Travel and leisure stocks slumped, with the S&P 1500 Hotels, Restaurant and Leisure .SPCOMHRL indexes fell more than 2% while the S&P 1500 Airlines .SPCOMAIR index lost 0.6%.

The small-cap Russell 2000 index .RUT fell 1.9%.

The virus uncertainty has triggered fresh alarm at a time when supply chain logjams are weighing on economic recovery and central banks globally are contemplating a return to pre-pandemic monetary policy to tackle a surge in inflation.

Meanwhile, data showed U.S. consumer confidence slipped in November amid concerns about the rising cost of living and relentless COVID-19 pandemic.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 3.82-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.40-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted seven new 52-week highs and 45 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 28 new highs and 572 new lows.

Tuesday registered the highest volume trading session for U.S. exchanges since June with 16.13 billion shares changing hands, compared with the 11.12 billion moving average for the last 20 sessions.
Reporting by Devik Jain and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru, Sinéad Carew in New York, Kevin Buckland in Ottawa, Editing by Marguerita Choy and Sriraj Kalluvila

Ansvarsfriskrivning: XM Group-enheter tillhandahåller sin tjänst enbart för exekvering och tillgången till vår onlinehandelsplattform, som innebär att en person kan se och/eller använda tillgängligt innehåll på eller via webbplatsen, påverkar eller utökar inte detta, vilket inte heller varit avsikten. Denna tillgång och användning omfattas alltid av i) villkor, ii) riskvarningar och iii) fullständig ansvarsfriskrivning. Detta innehåll tillhandahålls därför uteslutande som allmän information. Var framför allt medveten om att innehållet på vår onlinehandelsplattform varken utgör en uppmaning eller ett erbjudande om att ingå några transaktioner på de finansiella marknaderna. Handel på alla finansiella marknader involverar en betydande risk för ditt kapital.

Allt material som publiceras på denna sida är enbart avsett för utbildnings- eller informationssyften och innehåller inte – och ska inte heller anses innehålla – rådgivning och rekommendationer om finansiella frågor, investeringsskatt eller handel, dokumentation av våra handelskurser eller ett erbjudande om, eller en uppmaning till, en transaktion i finansiella instrument eller oönskade finansiella erbjudanden som är riktade till dig.

Tredjepartsinnehåll, liksom innehåll framtaget av XM såsom synpunkter, nyheter, forskningsrön, analyser, kurser, andra uppgifter eller länkar till tredjepartssajter som återfinns på denna webbplats, tillhandahålls i befintligt skick, som allmän marknadskommentar, och utgör ingen investeringsrådgivning. I den mån som något innehåll tolkas som investeringsforskning måste det noteras och accepteras att innehållet varken har varit avsett som oberoende investeringsforskning eller har utarbetats i enlighet med de rättsliga kraven för att främja ett sådant syfte, och därför är att betrakta som marknadskommunikation enligt tillämpliga lagar och föreskrifter. Se till så att du har läst och förstått vårt meddelande om icke-oberoende investeringsforskning och riskvarning om ovannämnda information, som finns här.

Vi använder cookies för att ge dig den bästa upplevelsen på vår webbplats. Läs mer eller ändra dina cookie-inställningar.

Riskvarning: Ditt kapital riskeras. Produkter med hävstång är inte lämpliga för alla. Vänligen se vår Riskinformation.