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US stocks tumble to cap worst quarter since pandemic’s start

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The S&P 500 declined, taking its loss in the past three months to nearly 5 percent, the most since March 2020.

By Isabelle Lee and Vildana HajricBloomberg

Published On 31 Mar 2022

U.S. stocks tumbled into the close, wrapping up their first losing quarter since the pandemic bear market, as Treasuries also pared the worst losses in at least five decades.

Moves in most financial markets were muted on the final day of a quarter that brought the twin threats of hawkish central banks bent on tamping down runaway inflation and the war in Ukraine. The S&P 500 declined, taking its loss in the three months to nearly 5%, the most since March 2020. The two-year Treasury yield gained after a 150 basis-point surge that’s the most since 1984. Ten-year rates slipped, narrowing the spread to shorter tenors, as investors remain on edge over the threat a restrictive Federal Reserve will cause a recession. And oil slumped, but held just above $100 a barrel in New York.

“The question is what kind of risk do we face in the second quarter?” Rob Haworth, senior investment strategy director at U.S. Bank Wealth Management, said by phone. “We’re still well left with a lot.”

Stocks, sovereign bonds and corporate credit all got hammered in the year’s first months amid concerns about a growth slowdown as central banks move to tackle inflation by withdrawing stimulus. Investors who piled into commodities fared best, riding massive gains in everything from oil to nickel and wheat. Yet, the increases have exacerbated price concerns and may lead to a sharper response from central banks.

“The recent rally has masked a lot of pain over the past three months,” wrote Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak + Co. Thursday’s decline marked the S&P 500’s 35th down day this year, the greatest number of first-quarter drawdowns since 1984, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Oil slid as U.S. President Joe Biden ordered a massive release of U.S. oil reserves while also prodding drillers to step up output. Meanwhile, stocks fell as U.S. inflation-adjusted spending declined last month as prices tempered

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