(NEWSnet) — Wall Street closed out a miserable September with a loss of 9.3%, the worst monthly decline since March 2020.

The S&P 500 fell 1.5% Friday and is at its lowest level in almost two years.

The benchmark index has lost ground for six of the last seven weeks and posted its third straight losing quarter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.7% and the Nasdaq fell 1.5%.

The main reason for this year's struggles for financial markets has been fear about a possible recession, as interest rates soar in hopes of beating down the high inflation that's swept the world.

The Federal Reserve has been at the forefront of the global campaign to slow economic growth and hurt job markets just enough to undercut inflation but not so much that it causes a recession. More data arrived Friday to suggest the Fed will keep its foot firmly on the brakes on the economy, raising the risk of its going too far and causing a downturn.

The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation showed it was worse last month than economists expected. That should keep the Fed on track to keep raising rates and hold them at high levels a while, as it's loudly and repeatedly promised to do.

Nike fell sharply after the company had to slash prices to clear inventories, while Carnival dropped following weaker-than-expected quarterly results. Bond markets were showing more calm as yields relaxed.