Stocks Mixed in Volatile Session…..

U.S. equities were able to come off the lows of the day to finish mixed, as investors assessed a number of ongoing headwinds that remained in place, including concerns surrounding the Fed, inflation, and potential for slowing economic growth. Treasuries experienced a bit of a reprieve and were higher, with yields declining, after expectations of an aggressive Fed tightening campaign helped contribute to the general market uneasiness and saw yields creep higher. The U.S. dollar moved to the upside, continuing a rally as of late to multi-year highs, while crude oil prices were solidly lower, and gold also lost ground. In M&A news, Pfizer agreed to acquire migraine therapy maker Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company for about $11.6 billion. Shares of Peloton Interactive suffered after posting a larger-than-expected loss and warning that it is thinly capitalized. Meanwhile, the economic calendar was relatively quiet but did show that small business optimism remains near a two-year low. Asia was mostly lower though China moved higher, while most markets in Europe finished with slight gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 85 points (0.3%) to 32,161, while the S&P 500 Index increased 10 points (0.3%) to 4,001, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 114 points (1.0%) to 11,738. In heavy volume, 5.8 billion shares of NYSE-listed stocks were traded, and 6.1 billion shares changed hands on the Nasdaq. WTI crude oil tumbled $3.33 to $99.76 per barrel. Elsewhere, the gold spot price traded $19.00 lower to $1,839.60 per ounce, and the Dollar Index was 0.3% higher at 103.94.

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index for April remained at March’s 93.2 level, versus the Bloomberg consensus estimate of a decrease to 92.9. The index held at the lowest level since April 2020 and posted the fourth consecutive month below the 48-year average of 98, with small businesses expecting better business conditions over the next six months decreasing to a net negative 50%, the lowest level recorded in the survey’s history.

The NFIB said, “Small business owners are struggling to deal with inflation pressures, and the labor supply is not responding strongly to small businesses’ high wage offers and the impact of inflation has significantly disrupted business operations.”

Treasuries rose after losing ground as of late to boost yields as the markets continue to brace for tighter Fed monetary policy following last week’s 50 basis point (bp) rate hike.

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