US open: Stocks sharply lower as financial sector weighs on market
Wall Street stocks were firmly in the red at the opening bell on Wednesday as the banking sector weighed on major indices.
As of 1530 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.65% at 31,625.24, while the S&P 500 slipped 1.43% to 3,863.44 and the Nasdaq Composite came out the gate 0.97% weaker at 11,317.39.
The Dow Jones opened 530.16 points lower on Wednesday, easily reversing gains recorded in the previous session.
Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse was in focus at the start of trading after Saudi National Bank, CS's largest investor, stated it would not provide any further funding for the group, according to Reuters.
The news comes hot on the heels of a revelation from the Swiss lender that it had found "certain material weaknesses" in its internal control over financial reporting for both 2021 and 2022 and also follows the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank - victims of poor management in the face of eight interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve over the past twelve months.
On the macro front, mortgage applications rose 6.5% in the week ended 10 March, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, with applications to refinance a home up 4.8% and applications to purchase a home surging 7.3%.
Elsewhere, wholesale inflation in the US slipped unexpectedly last month as food and services prices fell again. According to the Department of Labor, in seasonally adjusted terms, total final demand prices drifted lower at a month-on-month pace of 0.1% in February. Economists had forecast a rise of 0.4%.
On another note, Americans barely reined in their spending last month, even after January's splurge. According to the Department of Commerce, in seasonally adjusted terms US retail sales volumes dipped at a month-on-month pace of 0.4% in February to reach $697.88bn. That was in line with economists' forecasts for a dip of 0.4%.
Still on data, US manufacturers' and trade inventories contracted 0.1% month-on-month in January, according to the Census Bureau, following a 0.3% rise in the prior month - the first drop in business inventories since April 2021.
Finally, the National Association of Housebuilders/Wells Fargo housing market index increased for a third month in a row. The index rose to 44 in March, the highest reading since September 2022 and beating market forecasts for a reading of 40. The gauge for current sales conditions increased to 49 from an upwardly revised print of 47, while prospective buyer traffic edged 3 points higher to 31 - a six-month high. On the other hand, sales expectations for the next six months fell slightly to 47, down from 48.
Reporting by Iain Gilbert at Sharecast.com