Plunging Dow throws a scare into investors, dropping over 1,000 points before seesawing back into green on Monday

January 24, 2022, 9:31 PM UTC

The stock market is crashing. Or is it?

Early on Monday, the stock downturns from early 2022 picked up more steam, as the Dow Jones, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 all experienced more declines. By the end of the day, though, some had seesawed all the way back up. And by the end of day, all three had gained by at least 0.3%, completing a stunning comeback. It shows that Omicron January doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.

The early onslaught of selling on Monday came off the heels of the worst week for several major indexes since March 2020, the beginning of the pandemic.

By noon, the S&P 500 had fallen by 3.5%. The Nasdaq Composite, which houses many of 2022’s highly volatile technology stocks, was down by 4.6%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, meanwhile, was in freefall, shedding more than 1,100 points.

The Dow had rebounded entirely by days’ end, leveling off at a net loss of about 160 points, and the S&P is also in the clear, despite registering a 10% drop earlier in the day, which temporarily put it into what Wall Street calls “correction territory,” a sign the market is correcting a previous, incorrect thesis about the state of the economy. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite, which already entered correction territory last week, ran out ahead 0.6% in the green.

Monday’s wild ride was thanks to a final-hour burst of trading, but the stock market’s 2022 woes may not subside in the near future. Investors are looking at how geopolitical tensions in eastern Europe play out over fears that Russia President Vladimir Putin is planning an imminent invasion of Ukraine, which already hit European stocks Monday. Also, a forthcoming decision by the Fed this week on potential interest rate hikes is making the market jittery. 

But finally, several fourth-quarter earnings reports from high-performing stocks have been decidedly poor, most conspicuously Netflix. Another early pandemic darlin, Peloton, also experienced steep drops last week after announcing a production pause due to low demand and high supply. As the market drifts deeper into correction territory, these “stay-at-home stocks” are beginning to show their weaknesses.

As more fourth-quarter earnings reports come out over the next few weeks, investors seem pessimistic about stocks from the “stay-at-home economy.”

Besides earnings, all eyes are on the Federal Reserve, which is expected to make an important decision on Wednesday regarding monetary policy adjustments.

The pandemic recovery economy has seen inflation rates balloon to the highest they’ve been in 40 years, and many observers expect the Fed to react by increasing interest rates.

Investors will have a better idea of the exact timeline when the Fed releases its monetary statement on Wednesday, which may lay the groundwork for the year’s first interest rate hikes to come within the next few months, potentially as early as March.

“I think at this point, it’s very clear that the first rate hike will be at the March meeting. So I think as we look at the January meeting—which is likely to produce very little or zero, quite frankly, in policy terms—what investors and what we’re going to be looking at is really just the language around inflation,” Jason Ware, partner at Albion Financial Group, said at a Yahoo Finance event last week.

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