Shares fall while interest rates persist

The prospect of a rapid rise in interest rates has hit technology stocks particularly hard. Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, are down more than 10 percent for the month, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite, which fell 2.5 percent on Friday, is down over 9 percent. The index is down 18 percent for the year.

Investors have also had to contend with supply chain constraints, which are hampering sales and leading to higher prices. In February, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine meant that the already fragile global supply chain faced a new challenge as Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia, including a ban on oil imports from the country, a move that caused energy prices to rise.

The oil price withdrew on Friday, with futures contracts for June delivery of Brent oil, the international standard, which fell 1.7 percent, to 106.65 dollars per barrel. Nevertheless, the price represents a sharp increase since the beginning of the year, when prices were at 78.98 dollars a barrel. Oil and commodity prices are expected to remain volatile as the Russian war in Ukraine continues.

And in China, the world’s second largest economy, Shanghai and more than a dozen other cities were locked down in late March to fight the tide in the case of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Factories and other workplaces also had to be closed down.

And Friday added a number of disappointing earnings forecasts to the downgrade.

HCA Healthcare fell 21.8 percent, making the stock the worst performer in the S&P 500, after the company cut its earnings forecast, citing higher wage costs.

“The challenging labor market pushed margins as labor costs increased more than we expected compared to the first quarter of the previous year,” said Samuel Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare, during a conversation with investors. “In some situations, the challenges in the labor market also limited our capacity, preventing us from providing hospital services to certain patients.”

Verizon fell 5.8 percent after the company said it lost 36,000 wireless subscribers during the first three months of the year. Gaps also fell 18 percent after the company cut its sales outlook for 2022.

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