The ramifications of stamping down rising inflation dominated the markets in the third quarter. Investors weighed the balance between an aggressive government policy aimed at curbing price pressures against the possibility of those very policies leading to an economic recession. That dichotomy was not lost on Federal Reserve officials, who stoically made clear that "a sustained period of below trend growth" may be a necessary byproduct as part of the effort to bring down inflation. Ultimately, investors moved away from risk, sending stocks lower for the third straight quarter of 2022, while putting an exclamation point on the worst decline in the first nine months of a year in 20 years. By the end of the quarter, the Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq had entered into bear market territory. All three benchmark indexes are down at least 21.0% on the year. Crude oil prices declined sharply in the quarter for several reasons, including waning fuel demand, China's ongoing COVID lockdown policy, the unexpectedly benign impact of sanctions against Russian oil exports, rising inflation, and the strength of the U.S. dollar. The strength of the dollar often weighs on oil and other commodities that are priced in that currency, making them more expensive to purchasers using other currencies. Bond prices declined during the quarter, pushing yields up. The 10-year Treasury yield jumped 83 basis points since the end of June and nearly 230 basis points on the year. Gold prices struggled to maintain any momentum, ultimately falling more than 7.50% in the quarter.
The Markets (as of market close November 30, 2021)
Before reviewing yourcompany 401(k) plan, check out how the market can affect your retirement. Stocks ended November generally lower, with only the Nasdaq able to eke out a gain. The Global Dow and the Russell 2000 each lost more than 4.25%. The Dow fell 3.7% and the S&P 500 dropped 0.8%. The Nasdaq gained 0.3%.
The Markets (as of market close July 30, 2021)
Stocks closed generally higher in July, despite a downturn at the end of the month. Second-quarter corporate earnings data was generally strong, although some megacap companies posted weaker-than-expected earnings results. Economic news was mostly favorable. The economy expanded at an annualized rate of 6.5%, 850,000 new jobs were added, while the number of new unemployment claims declined. Industrial production rose, as did new orders for durable goods.
In July, the president issued an executive order intended to "combat excessive consolidation of industry, abuses of market power, and the harmful effects of monopoly." More than a dozen federal agencies were directed to begin working on 72 initiatives that seek to promote robust competition in the U.S. economy, in some cases through new regulations.