Sliding bank stocks drag Wall St. in choppy trade

STORY: In what was arguably the most dramatic day on Wall Street so far this year, a rout in bank stocks Monday weighed on markets as investors worried about contagion from the Silicon Valley Bank collapse.

But you might not be able to tell by the closing numbers of the main indexes.

The Dow dropped just under a third of a percent, the S&P 500 shed over a tenth of a percent… but while the Nasdaq gained nearly half a percent - as some sectors benefited from hopes the Federal Reserve could ease up on interest rate hikes.

SVB’s sudden failure on Friday - as well as Signature Bank, which was shut down by regulators Sunday - had investors worried about risks to other banks… despite extraordinary efforts by the U.S. government to protect depositors.

First Republic Bank fell a whopping 62% as news of fresh financing failed to reassure investors. Western Alliance plummeted 47% and PacWest dropped 21%. Trading in the stocks was halted several times.

And shares of big banks including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo also all lost ground.

A silver lining to the crisis? Many investors speculated the central bank could now become less hawkish in its efforts to tame inflation.

But Sean O'Hara, President of Pacer ETFs Distributors, doesn’t necessarily agree.

“I would have to go with what they've been saying, which is they're going to continue to raise rates until they can tamp down inflation. And that job's not even close to being done yet. Maybe they'll change tune and use this as an excuse to sort of chicken out, I don't know. And so that leads us to the big question about whether we will or we won't have a recession. And if we do, how big of a recession is it going to be?”

Outside the banking industry, Pfizer shares rose after the drugmaker said it would buy biotech company Seagen for nearly $43 billion.