A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., March 7, 2022.
A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., March 7, 2022. Reuters / ANDREW KELLY

U.S. stocks were down sharply on Monday, with the S&P 500 hitting its lowest level since April 2021, led by declines in mega-cap growth shares as the benchmark 10-year yield hit fresh 3-1/2 year highs and investors grew more concerned about the interest rate outlook.

Nasdaq was down more than 3%, while Apple shares also fell more than 3% were the biggest weight on the Nasdaq and S&P 500.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields hit their highest levels since November 2018 early in the session. [US/]

Investors are worries about how aggressive the Federal Reserve will need to be to tame inflation. The U.S. central bank recently hiked interest rates by 50 basis points.

"Markets are digesting the start of a return to a more normal monetary policy environment," said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco in New York.

"Moving more aggressively raises the specter of a recession, especially with all of these complications - high inflation, Russia's invasion of Ukraine, COVID-related supply chain disruptions," she said.

Investors have also been worried about an economic slowdown in China following a recent rise in COVID cases.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 525.94 points, or 1.6%, to 32,373.43, the S&P 500 lost 116.11 points, or 2.82%, to 4,007.23 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 486.13 points, or 4%, to 11,658.53.

The S&P 500 hit its lowest level since April 2021, while the Nasdaq hit its lowest level since its lowest level since November 2020.

Growth stocks have been among the hardest in the recent selloff because their returns and valuations are discounted more deeply when yields rise.

The energy sector sector also tumbled as oil prices dropped.

Twitter Inc fell more than 3% as Hindenburg Research took a short position on the social media company's stock, saying the company's $44 billon deal to sell itself to Elon Musk has a significant risk of getting repriced lower.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 7.12-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 5.70-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 1 new 52-week highs and 67 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 13 new highs and 1,146 new lows.