US stocks fall amid inflation fears but the Dow and S&P 500 end a volatile month flat

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  • US stocks fell Tuesday as rising oil and eurozone prices renewed inflation fears.
  • But the Dow and the S&P 500 closed a volatile month of trading flat. 
  • Slow growth poses a headwind for stocks, and earnings estimates are too high, Morgan Stanley analysts said Tuesday. 

US stocks dropped Tuesday as investors grappled with signs that high inflation will stick around, though both the Dow and the S&P 500 closed out a volatile month of trading flat. 

Rising oil and a record high in eurozone prices renewed inflation concerns, which sent the 10-year Treasury yield surging. But despite the wild swings in May, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 finished virtually even. The Nasdaq lost 2% for the month.

After stocks sold off sharply to start the year, investors are looking for signs of a bottom. Last week, stocks broke their longest weekly losing streak since 2001. But Morgan Stanley said investors shouldn’t get comfortable as the bear market rally is likely to fade. Slowing growth is a headwind for stocks, and earnings estimates are too high, the analysts noted. 

“Bottom line, our base case remains that last week’s strength will prove to be another bear market rally in the end,” Morgan Stanley analysts led by Mike Wilson wrote Tuesday.

Here’s where US indexes stood as the market closed 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday: 

Energy stocks have dominated the list of gainers in the S&P 500, even as the broader index has dropped in 2022. Companies in the sector have seen big profits amid oil’s surge to the highest price in nearly 15 years. 

Meanwhile, insider stock purchases are at the highest level in more than two years, which some experts say is a signal of a market bottom. From May 1 to May 24, stock purchases by executives of companies within the S&P 500 hit the most volume since March 2020.  

Overseas, Russia’s central bank could impose negative interest rates on dollar and euro deposits to elevate alternative currencies such as China’s yuan. Sanctions have already increased the appeal of other currencies, the bank said, so the move would only accelerate the transition.

In China, stocks like Alibaba and others got a boost after Shanghai lifted COVID-19 restrictions and officials unveiled stimulus measures such as tax incentives and subsidies. 

Oil inched higher, with West Texas Intermediate up 0.28% to $115.40 a barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, moved up 0.96% to $122.84 a barrel. 

Gold edged lower 0.79% to $1,836.60 per ounce. The 10-year yield jumped 10.2 basis points to 2.851%.

Bitcoin climbed 3.17% to $31.646.55.