U.S. stocks plunged Thursday as December's sell-off intensified after a fleeting rally in the previous session.
The S&P 500 (^GSPC) closed down 1.4% after dropping as much as 2.8% in afternoon trading, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) shed 350 points, or 1%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) tumbled 2.2%.
Losses picked up after veteran hedge fund manager David Tepper said in a televised interview with CNBC that he is “leaning short on the equity markets” over concerns rising interest rates will further batter stocks.
Poor results from Micron Technology (MU) also soured the mood. The largest U.S. manufacturer of memory chips warned of a glut in the semiconductor market and forecast a wider-than-expected second-quarter loss as a result. The company revealed a series of cost-cutting measures to help offset an expected drop in revenue, including a 10% reduction in its workforce. Shares fell 3.4% on Thursday.
Tesla's stock (TSLA) cratered 8.9%, deepening steep declines for the electric vehicle giant, which is now down more than 68% this year.
Selling pressures have intensified for Tesla this month, with investors concerned that CEO Elon Musk's management of Twitter was distracting him from leadership responsibilities at the electric carmaker. According to Bloomberg, 10 analysts have cut their price targets on the stock since last week.
On Thursday morning, the company also said it was offering U.S. consumers a $7,500 discount on its two highest-volume models before year-end, a move seen as an attempt to tackle waning demand.
AMC's (AMC) stock sank 7.5% Thursday after the cinema operator proposed a reverse stock split and a conversion of its preferred equity units into common shares. AMC was halted for volatility in the early minutes of trading.
CarMax (KMX) shares fell 3.6% after the company reported an 86% drop in third-quarter profit, while indicating it was also halting share buybacks, pausing hiring and cutting expenses.
Meanwhile, Under Armour (UA) named Marriott International President Stephanie Linnartz its next chief executive officer, concluding a seven-month search for a new leader. Linnartz, who was one of 60 candidates under consideration, is expected to assume the post Feb. 27, according to the company. Under Armour’s stock edged down 1.7% Thursday.
The moves come after all three major averages booked gains of at least 1.5% on Wednesday, boosted by a rebound in consumers' attitudes on the economy and upbeat earnings from Nike (NKE) that temporarily curbed fears around the corporate outlook.
On the economic data front, filings for unemployment insurance ticked up slightly to 216,000 in the week ended Dec. 17, the Labor Department said Thursday, a modest increase from the prior week's upwardly revised 214,000.
In commodities markets, oil prices swung ahead of wintry weather in the U.S. and forecasts of a storm moving toward North America. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures – the U.S. benchmark – closed down at $78.26 after rising earlier in the day.
“Energy stocks again have a spring in their step, thanks to a rise in crude prices for the fourth straight session amid expectations of higher demand over the holiday period,” Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said in an emailed note. “But gains are being capped by concerns lingering in the background about world economic prospects next year.”
In cryptoworld, events in the saga of fallen cryptocurrency exchange FTX continued to unfold. FTX co-founder and former CTO Gary Wang and former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison pleaded guilty late Wednesday to charges related to their roles in fraud that contributed to the collapse of the company.
Disgraced former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was released on $250 million bail Thursday afternoon while he awaits trial on fraud charges related to the collapse of his crypto exchange.
Investors are waiting to see whether a Santa Claus rally — a seasonal rise in the stock market that tends to occur around the end of December – will happen this year. But a downbeat month so far plagued by worries over inflation, rising interest rates, and the likelihood of a recession have thrown a wrench in hopes for year-end gains.
“We think the economy and the markets are merely recalibrating to higher interest rates and to slower growth,” BMO Wealth Management Chief Investment Strategist Yung-Yu Ma said in a note, pointing to record stimulus and economic momentum in 2021 that led to higher inflation.
“All that reversing a created year in 2022 where there was really a pullback.” Ma said. “As a result, we expect 2023 to be a recalibration to what we consider normal times.”
Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc