Stocks waver on Wall Street following another dismal week

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks wavered between gains and losses in morning trading on Wall Street Monday as the market comes off another week of big losses.

The S&P 500 rose 0.5% as of 10:19 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2 points, or less than 0.1%, to 29,585 and the Nasdaq rose 1.4%.

The British pound slumped to an all-time low against the dollar and investors continued to dump British government bonds in displeasure over a sweeping tax cut plan announced in London last week. Markets in Europe were mostly higher.

Technology stocks and retailers made solid gains. Apple rose 2.2% and Amazon rose 3%. Casino and resort operators rose on reports that the gambling center of Macau will loosen travel restrictions in November. Wynn Resorts jumped 14.8%. Health care companies fell. UnitedHealth Group slipped 1.8%.

The muted opening to the week comes amid an extended slump for major indexes. The benchmark S&P 500 is down more than 6% in September. Stocks have been weighed down by concerns about stubbornly hot inflation and the risk that central banks could push economies into a recession as they try to cool high prices on everything from food to clothing. Investors have been particularly focusing on the Federal Reserve and its aggressive interest rate hikes.

The Fed raised its benchmark rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, again last week and it now sits at a range of 3% to 3.25%. It was at virtually zero at the start of the year. The Fed also released a forecast suggesting its benchmark rate could be 4.4% by the year’s end, a full point higher than envisioned in June.

The goal is to make borrowing more expensive and effectively crimp spending, which would cool inflation. But, the U.S. economy is already slowing and Wall Street is worried that that the Fed’s rate hikes will pump the brakes too hard on the economy and cause a recession.

Higher interest rates hurt all kinds of investments, especially pricey technology stocks, and the market has been in a broad slump as rates rise. Treasury yields, have climbed to multiyear highs as interest rates rise.

The yield on the 2-year Treasury, which tends to follow expectations for Federal Reserve action, rose to 4.22% from 4.21% late Friday. It is trading at its highest level since 2007. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, rose to 3.77% from 3.69%.

The recent rise in the U.S. dollar against other currencies is a concern for many countries. It dents profits for U.S. companies with overseas business, and puts a financial squeeze on much of the developing world.

Companies are nearing the close of the third quarter and investors are preparing for the next round of earnings reports. That will give them a better sense of how companies are dealing with persistent inflation.

Investors also have several economic reports on tap for this week that will give more details on consumer spending, the jobs market and the broader health of the U.S. economy.

The latest consumer confidence report, for September, from business group The Conference Board will be released on Tuesday. The government will release its weekly report on unemployment benefits on Thursday, along with an updated report on second-quarter gross domestic product.

On Friday, the government will release another report on personal income and spending that will help provide more details on where and how inflation is hurting consumer spending.

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