The Nasdaq Composite fell sharply Wednesday as investors focused on the simmering Ukraine-Russia conflict, pulling the technology-laden index toward its first bear market in about two years.
After logging a correction in late January, the Nasdaq Composite
stands about 17.4%, or 2.6 percentage points, below its Nov. 19 record close. If the index ends at or below 12,845.95 it will meet the commonly used definition of a bear market — a fall of 20% from a recent peak. A correction is defined as a fall of 10% from a recent peak.
The Nasdaq hasn’t fallen into a bear market since March 12, 2020, during the height of the COVID pandemic selloff.
However, the mood on Wall Street has soured substantially in the face of higher inflation and expectations that the Federal Reserve next month will commence a series of interest-rate hikes that will kneecap the bullish upswing in stocks during a period of rates that were at or near 0%.
The benchmark 10-year benchmark Treasury note
used to price everything from car loans to mortgages, has climbed about 0.50 percentage point since the beginning of the year.
Higher yields have been blamed for the selloff by many tech and other so-called growth stocks whose lofty valuations were based on profit and cash flow expected far in the future. Higher yields mean the present value of those future flows are worth less.
Meanwhile, tensions in Eastern Europe could threaten to drive inflation even higher and provide further cause for monetary policy makers to raise borrowing costs to cool the economy if prices for commodities, including everything from wheat to crude oil run higher.
The bearish factors have combined to drive the Nasdaq Composite substantially lower but also are weighing on the Dow Jones Industrial Average
and the broad-market S&P 500 index
which are significantly lower in 2022.