S&P 500 confirms bear market as recession worry grows

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. equities tumbled on Monday, with the S&P 500 confirming it is in a bear market, as fears grow that the expected aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve would push the economy into a recession.

The benchmark S&P index has fallen for four straight days, with the index now down more than 20% from its most recent record closing high to confirm a bear market began on Jan. 3, according to a commonly used definition.

All the major S&P sectors were sharply lower, with only about 10 components of the S&P 500 in positive territory on the day. Markets have been under pressure this year as climbing prices, including a jump in oil prices due in part to the war in Ukraine, have put the Fed on track to take strong actions to tighten its monetary policy, such as interest rate hike.

The Fed is scheduled to make its next policy announcement on Wednesday and investors will be highly focused on any clues for how aggressive the central bank intends to be in raising rates.

A hotter-than-expected consumer price index (CPI) reading on Friday prompted traders to price in a total of 175 basis point (bps) in interest rate hikes by September.