Dow falls about 200 points to start June, as worries mount over economic growth

U.S. stocks pulled back Wednesday amid worries about the health of the economy, as Wall Street turned the page to another month following a volatile May.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed about 190 points or 0.6%. The S&P 500 eased 0.7%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite retreated 0.7%.

The major averages each opened higher, but turned lower as concerns mounted about economic growth.

Weighing on investor sentiment, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon on Wednesday said the economy is headed for a “hurricane.”

“You better brace yourself,” Dimon said at a financial conference. “JPMorgan is bracing ourselves and we’re going to be very conservative with our balance sheet.”

Fresh economic data released Wednesday morning showed job openings declined sharply in April.

Meanwhile, the benchmark U.S. Treasury yield climbed Wednesday. Rising rates discount the value of future earnings and can make stocks look less attractive.

“We probably see volatility for the first half of June, and maybe a decent portion of June, because we’re not going to have any new information that calms us down before then,” SoFi’s head of investment strategy Liz Young told CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report” on Tuesday.

Financial stocks comprised the worst-performing S&P 500 sector Wednesday. Goldman Sachs fell about 3% and JPMorgan Chase pulled back more than 2%.

Materials names typically linked to the economic cycle were among the biggest laggards on the S&P 500. Albemarle dropped roughly 10% and Mosaic shed about 7%.

Travel names also struggled Wednesday. Boeing was a top decliner on the Dow, down about 2%. On the S&P 500, Norwegian Cruise Line fell 5.5% and United Airlines eased more than 5%.

On the upside, Salesforce surged more than 9% after the company’s first-quarter results topped expectations.

Stocks are coming off a down session Tuesday as investors weathered choppy trading to close out the month.

For the month of May, the Dow and S&P 500 finished little changed, after last week’s strong rally chipped away at long losing streaks for the indexes. The Nasdaq Composite underperformed, shedding more than 2%.

However, the ride for stock investors was far more turbulent than the month-end results suggest. The S&P 500 briefly dipped into bear market territory last month, trading more than 20% below a record at one point. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, is deep in a bear market — down more than 26% from an all-time high.

Traders in May pored over a raft of mixed quarterly results that included some big misses from bellwether names like Walmart.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve at the start of May hiked rates by 50 basis points to quell an inflationary surge not seen in decades.

San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly on Wednesday said she backs raising interest rates aggressively until inflation quells.

Wednesday marks the start of the Fed’s plan to reduce its balance sheet, which ballooned to nearly $9 trillion during the Covid pandemic.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CNBC on Wednesday the White House has several strategies that will reduce inflation she characterized as too high for Americans. In a separate interview Tuesday, Yellen admitted she was wrong when she called inflation “transitory” last year.

With the first-quarter earnings season nearly complete and the Fed having strongly signaled its rate hike intentions for its next two meetings, stocks could struggle for direction over the summer.

“It’s best to wait and see how the next quarter shakes out. When we get into late July, we’ll have a better picture. Until then, I think we’re going to see very much a choppy market with a bias towards falling further into a bear market,” said Max Gokhman, chief investment officer at AlphaTrAI.

—CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to this report.

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