Fed's signal of an end to stimulus dampens sentiment.
US stocks slid last week, giving the Standard & Poor's 500 Index its biggest decline of the year, after the Federal Reserve signalled it will refrain from further monetary stimulus and concern about Europe intensified.
Nine out of 10 S&P 500 industries retreated during the holiday-shortened week. Energy companies fell the most as Alpha Natural Resources Inc. slumped 6.6 per cent, leading the group to a 1.8 per cent drop. SanDisk Corp. and Constellation Brands Inc. tumbled at least 8.4 per cent after providing disappointing forecasts. Apple Inc. jumped 5.7 per cent, helping drive technology companies in the benchmark index to the longest string of weekly gains since at least 1989.
The S&P 500 fell 0.7 per cent for the week to 1,398.08, after reaching the highest level since May 2008 on April 2. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 151.90 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 13,060.14. While US stocks markets were closed yesterday for Good Friday, futures on the two indexes traded for 45 minutes after the Labour Department's monthly jobs report came out in New York.
"The Fed is taking QE3 [the third round of quantitative easing] a little bit off the table," Jeffrey Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial Corp. in Boston, which oversees $350 billion (Dh1.28 trillion), said in a telephone interview, referring to a third round of stimulus measures known as quantitative easing. "The market knows how the movie ends. It has seen it twice before and is worried we're on the cusp of a 15 to 20 per cent pullback."
Equities failed to build on the S&P 500's best first- quarter rally since 1998. Minutes from the March 13 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee showed that the central bank will refrain from increasing monetary accommodation unless economic expansion falters or prices rise at a rate slower than its 2 per cent target. Concern about Europe's debt crisis intensified as Spain sold ¤2.59 billion (Dh12.66 billion) of bonds at an auction, less than the maximum target of ¤3.5 billion.
The S&P 500 surged 12 per cent from January through March as data on manufacturing, real estate and the labour market boosted optimism about the world's largest economy.
Reports last week showed manufacturing in the US expanded at a faster pace than forecast while jobless claims dropped to the lowest level in four years. The Labour Department report came below economists' projections, who expected to see that the nation added more than 200,000 jobs for a fourth straight month.
Energy shares in the S&P 500 declined 1.8 per cent for the third consecutive weekly retreat, the longest streak since August. Alpha Natural, a coal producer, fell 6.6 per cent to $14.20. Nabors Industries Ltd., the world's largest land-rig contractor, decreased 5.1 per cent to $16.60.
SanDisk tumbled 11 per cent to $44.09. The biggest maker of flash-memory cards predicted revenue in the quarter that ended April 1 of about $1.2 billion.
That compared with an earlier forecast for sales of $1.3 billion to $1.35 billion. SanDisk cited weaker-than-expected pricing and demand for components that store data in mobile phones.
The S&P 500 Information Technology Index added 0.1 per cent, gaining for a 14th straight week, the longest streak since at least September 1989. Apple, the world's biggest company by market value, advanced 5.7 per cent to a record $633.68 after its new iPad was named the best tablet computer in a ranking by Consumer Reports. Analysts from Piper Jaffray Cos. and Topeka Capital Markets said the stock could surge to $1,000.
Constellation Brands slipped 8.4 per cent to $21.61. The world's largest wine company said full-year earnings per share may be $1.93 to $2.03. Analysts projected profit of $2.23, on average, in a Bloomberg survey.
General Electric Co., the maker of jet engines, power generation equipment, health care imaging equipment and locomotives, fell 2.9 per cent to $19.49. Moody's Investors Service cut GE's credit rating by one level and reduced GE Capital Corp. by two steps, citing "heightened risk" from the finance unit.
First Solar Inc. fell the most in the S&P 500, sinking 16 per cent to $20.98. The biggest maker of thin-film solar panels had its share-price estimate lowered to $20 from $35 by JPMorgan Chase & Co., which said the company's profit margin will continue to decline.
Avon Products Inc. surged 21 per cent, the most since 1998, to $23.42. Coty Inc., the seller of perfumes by Heidi Klum and Beyonce Knowles, offered to buy the cosmetics company for about $10 billion. Avon rejected the bid, saying a deal wouldn't be in the best interests of shareholders. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. rose 9.2 per cent to $71.85. The retail-chain operator posted a fourth-quarter profit of $1.48 a share, beating the average analyst estimate of $1.32.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has kept interest rates near zero since December 2008 and expanded the central bank's balance sheet with two rounds of asset purchases totalling $2.3 trillion. First-quarter rallies in the S&P 500 stalled in April in both of the past two years, sinking as much as 16 per cent in 2010 and 19 per cent in 2011, amid concern the Fed would stop stimulating the economy.
"One of the very stated reasons why the Fed has unleashed all this easing through QE1 and QE2 is to attempt to juice the stock market to boost the wealth effect," Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab Corp., told Ken Prewitt and Tom Keene on Bloomberg Radio's Bloomberg Surveillance.
"Now that it looks like we are not going to get QE3, we are now going through the digestion phase of figuring out how much of the support under the economy or the market was a function of that."