Before the Bell: Musk Sells More Tesla Stock, Fed Rate Hikes Aren’t Stopping

Premarket trading Thursday morning had all three major U.S. indexes showing a slide: the Dow Jones industrials was down about 0.8%, the S&P 500 down nearly a full point and the Nasdaq lower by 1.17%.

Ten of 11 sectors closed lower Wednesday, with financials (−1.29%) and materials (−1.11%) leading the fall. Health care was the only sector to finish with a gain (0.14%).

The three indexes closed lower on Wednesday following the FOMC’s announcement of an interest rate hike of 0.5%, lifting the federal funds rate to a range of 4.25% to 4.50%. At his press conference, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell made it abundantly clear that the beatings will continue until morale improves — or until the Fed is convinced that inflation is at or near the target rate of 2%. Depending on which inflation indicator one looks at, the annual rate of inflation in November was around 7%.

The sell-off in equities probably reflected traders’ belief that previous rate hikes will continue to weaken economic activity, and, consequently, reduce corporate earnings. Investors are unlikely to want to pay more (in the form of higher share prices) for less.

Gary Black, managing partner of The Future Fund, tweeted Wednesday that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has sold 94 million split-adjusted shares of Tesla stock so far this year at an average price of $244 per share, or roughly $23 billion. In 2021, Musk acquired an estimated 68.6 million shares by exercising options at a cost of $344 per share.

Barron’s estimates that Musk sold about 22 million Tesla shares this week worth roughly $3.6 billion.

Tesla’s shareholders are not amused. Shares dropped 2.58% on Wednesday and traded down about 2.7% in Thursday’s premarket session. Tesla stock is down more than 51% over the past 12 months and nearly 56% for the year to date.

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