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Wall St wavers on rising recession worries; Apple, Tesla slump

By Ankika Biswas and Shashwat Chauhan

(Reuters) -Wall Street's main indexes struggled for direction on growing fears that the Federal Reserve's monetary policy tightening could trigger a recession and hit corporate earnings, while Apple and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) were the biggest drags on the Nasdaq. The benchmark S&P 500 fell for the fifth straight session on Wednesday.

The Nasdaq was down for the fourth straight session, dragged lower by a 1.3% drop in Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) on Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS)'s iPhone shipment target cut and a 3.9% fall in Tesla Inc over production loss worries. Markets have also been rattled by downbeat comments from top executives at Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS), JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) and Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) on Tuesday that a mild to more pronounced recession was likely ahead. Fears that the U.S. central bank might stick to a longer rate-hike cycle have intensified recently in the wake of strong jobs and service-sector reports.

More economic data, including weekly jobless claims, producer price index and the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment survey this week, will be on the watch list for clues on what to expect from the Fed on Dec. 14.

"When they (investors) take a look at what earnings estimates are for the remainder of 2022 and for 2023, they have not considered a recession in 2023," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

"There's some adjustment to what earnings estimates will be over the next 12 months and I think that's what's providing a little bit of pressure to the markets."

The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street's fear gauge, rose to a two-week high to 23.01 points.

Money market participants see a 91% chance that the Fed will increase its key benchmark rate by 50 basis points in December to 4.25%-4.50%, with rates peaking in May 2023 at 4.93%.

At 12:08 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 22.89 points, or 0.07%, at 33,573.45, the S&P 500 was down 10.53 points, or 0.27%, at 3,930.73, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 69.69 points, or 0.63%, at 10,945.20.

Concerns about a steep rise in borrowing costs have boosted the dollar, but dented demand for risk assets such as equities this year. The S&P 500 is on track to snap a three-year winning streak, down 17.4% so far in 2022.

Three out of 11 major S&P sector indexes were higher, with healthcare shares leading the pack, while technology and communication services stocks were the worst performers. Carvana Co (NYSE:CVNA) was down 30.6% after Wedbush downgraded the used-car retailer's stock to "underperform" from "neutral" and slashed its price target to $1. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 1.16-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.17-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded six new 52-week highs and seven new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 36 new highs and 226 new lows.


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