The prospect of the Federal Reserve not reaching as deep into its bottomless pockets is starting to hit home for investors.

The S&P 500 tumbled 2 percent on Tuesday — the worst one-day slide for the benchmark U.S. index since May — as investors faced the expected wind-down of the enormous bond purchases the central bank has made since the start of the pandemic.

“The deep sell-off highlights the extent of the nerves in the markets surrounding the moves of the Fed,” said Fiona Cincotta, senior financial markets analyst at

The coming slowdown of bond purchases is a sign of the Fed’s confidence that the economy is recovering from the upheaval of the pandemic. But, Ms. Cincotta noted, other factors are still making Wall Street wary.

“There’s also a combination of rising energy prices, concerns that inflation could be more entrenched in these elevated levels and the fact that consumer confidence is slowing,” she…

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