US stocks fell on Tuesday, resuming their decline after last week’s rally, while a pledge by European Union leaders to cut Russian oil purchases lifted crude prices.
The S&P 500 fell about 0.6 percent in morning trading, a day after markets were closed for Memorial Day in the United States. The benchmark index had risen 0.6 percent in the month through Friday, putting it on track to level off after an 8.8 percent loss in April. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.7%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.6%.
Crude prices rose after EU leaders announced for the first time that Russia would face an oil embargo as a result of its invasion of Ukraine. The embargo would exempt oil delivered from Russia via pipelines, which account for one-third of EU purchases from Russia.
Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, rose 1.4 percent to $119.23 per barrel. The U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, rose 2.7 percent to $118.22 per barrel, catching up after the market was closed Monday.
The session on Tuesday will bring to a close another volatile trading month in which stocks around the world swung wildly as traders tried to assess the outlook for global economies. In the United States, stocks fell shortly after the month began and continued to fall as earnings and economic data came in worse than expected.
Throughout the month, profit warnings from companies ranging from Snap to Target heightened concerns about the lingering impact of inflation, prompting investors to sell stocks in a variety of industries.
By mid-May, it appeared that the S&P 500 would end in a bear market, defined as a drop of 20% or more from a recent high. However, a late-month rally sent stocks soaring and helped the benchmark index pare its losses. The S&P 500 is down about 14% from its January high.
Professional and individual investors alike waded into last week’s rally in US markets, looking for opportunities to scoop up stocks with falling valuations. However, the issues that caused stocks to fall earlier this month have not subsided.
Many traders remain concerned that the Federal Reserve’s plans to aggressively raise interest rates could tip the US economy into a recession. Meanwhile, investors are concerned about a Chinese economic slowdown and long-term supply-chain disruptions caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
According to new survey data released Tuesday, consumer confidence in the United States fell slightly in May compared to the previous months. President Biden is also scheduled to meet with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at the White House on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, ten of the S&P 500’s eleven sectors were down. The exception was energy, which increased as oil prices rose. Marathon Oil and Diamondback Energy both increased by more than 3%.
Unilever shares in the United States rose 8.5 percent after the consumer goods company announced the appointment of activist investor Nelson Peltz to its board of directors and disclosed that his fund now owns a 1.5 percent stake.
The S&P 500’s energy sector is on track to end May with the largest gain of the index’s 11 sectors, extending a trend that has flourished for much of 2022. Even beaten-down tech stocks, such as Netflix and Zoom Video Communications, are expected to end the month in the black.
In the bond market, the 10-year Treasury note yield increased to 2.862 percent from 2.748 percent on Friday. Bond yields and prices are inversely related.
Overseas, the Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.7 percent, snapping a four-session winning streak, after eurozone inflation rose faster than expected. Consumer prices rose 8.1 percent year on year in May, the fastest rate since records began in 1997, following a 7.4 percent increase in April. The European Central Bank’s upcoming interest-rate decisions will almost certainly be influenced by the inflation report. Earlier this month, ECB President Christine Lagarde suggested that the central bank’s key interest rate could be raised in July for the first time in 11 years.
In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.2 percent after the city’s government announced Wednesday that a two-month lockdown would be lifted. The shutdown, designed to limit Covid-19 transmission, had slowed the Chinese economy and added to inflationary pressures elsewhere in the world by gumming up supply chains.