Wall Street falls amid inflation fears

US stocks have fallen as soaring oil prices and hawkish comments from a Federal Reserve official spook investors, with focus turning to talks between US President Joe Biden and Fed Chair Jerome Powell later in the day.

Ten of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors declined in morning trade.

Energy outperformed with a 1.1 per cent gain as Brent crude climbed above $US120 a barrel after the European Union agreed to a partial ban on Russian oil.

Fed Governor Christopher Waller said on Monday the US central bank should be prepared to raise rates by a half percentage point at every meeting from now on until inflation is decisively curbed.

Waller’s comments sparked a sell-off in bond markets, with the benchmark 10-year US Treasury yield climbing to a one-week high as traders scaled down expectations that the Fed might pause for breath after hikes in June and July.

“We haven’t seen a genuine peak in inflation yet,” said Max Kettner, chief multi-asset strategist at HSBC.

“In the US, it’s a peak technically but it’s much more about the composition of inflation in the next few months.”

Biden said the Fed has a primary responsibility to control inflation and vowed not to seek “to influence its decisions inappropriately” ahead of a meeting with the central bank chief.

Last week, all the three major US indexes snapped their longest weekly losing streak in decades as signs of inflation peaking and consumer resiliency brought back buyers into the market.

Still, they were on track to decline for a second straight month, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq down 2.8 per cent as high-growth stocks tend to underperform when interest rates rise.

“Sentiment had become very downbeat, and that was behind the rally from the last week and a half… From a fundamental perspective, there are too many headwinds,” Kettner said.

Data showed US consumer confidence slipped in May on persistent concerns over high inflation.

In early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 311.37 points, or 0.94 per cent, at 32,901.59, the S&P 500 was down 43.41 points, or 1.04 per cent, at 4,114.83, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 155.97 points, or 1.29 per cent, at 11,975.16.

US-listed shares of Yamana Gold Inc climbed 8.2 per cent after South African miner Gold Fields Ltd agreed to buy the Canadian miner in a $US6.7 billion ($A9.3 billion) all-share deal.

Dexcom Inc jumped 7.0 per cent to the top of S&P 500 index after the glucose monitoring systems maker denied report of merger talks with insulin pump maker Insulet Corp.

The CBOE volatility index snapped a three-day losing streak and was last up at 27.66 points.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.99-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.43-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded four new 52-week highs and 29 new lows while the Nasdaq posted 32 new highs and 30 new lows.

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