To tame inflation, Fed raises key interest rate
The Federal Reserve intensified its drive to curb the worst inflation in 40 years by raising its benchmark short-term interest rate by a sizable half-percentage point. (May 4)
NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is shifting into reverse, giving up much of the big gains it made a day earlier on relief that the Federal Reserve wouldn’t be as aggressive as some feared in raising interest rates to fight inflation.
The S&P 500 fell 2.6%. The index climbed 3% on Wednesday for its best day since May 2020. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2% the Nasdaq fell 3.7%.
The reversal follows the Federal Reserve’s decision Wednesday to raise its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point as it tries to tackle persistently high inflation. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 3.03% its highest since late 2018.
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Every major index still remains on track for solid weekly gains following Wednesday’s rally. Bond yields rose significantly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 3.03% from 2.92% late Wednesday, reaching its highest level since late 2018.
Amazon, Google drive market losses but energy stocks see gains
Technology companies had some of the biggest losses and weighed down the broader market, in a reversal from the solid gains they made a day earlier. Apple fell 3.4% and Microsoft fell 3.9%.
Internet retail giant Amazon slumped 6.4% and Google’s parent company fell 4.3%.
Energy stocks held up better than the rest of the market as U.S. crude oil prices rose 1.4%. Energy markets remain volatile as the conflict in Ukraine continues and demand remains high amid tight supplies of oil.
European governments are trying to replace energy supplies from Russia and are considering an embargo. OPEC and allied oil-producing countries decided Thursday to gradually increase the flows of crude they send to the world.
Higher oil and gas prices have been contributing to the uncertainties weighing on investors as they try to assess how inflation will ultimately impact businesses, consumer activity and overall economic growth.
Fed decision on interest rates
The Fed’s aggressive shift to raise interest rates has investors worrying about whether it can pull off the delicate dance to slow the economy enough to halt high inflation but not so much as to cause a downturn. The pace and size of interest rate increases is being scrutinized.
The latest move by the Fed to raise interest rates by a half-percentage point had been widely expected. Markets steadied this week ahead of the policy update, but Wall Street was concerned the Fed might elect to raise rates by three-quarters of a percentage point in the months ahead. Fed Chair Jerome Powell eased those concerns, saying the central bank is “not actively considering” such an increase.
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The central bank also announced that it will start reducing its huge $9 trillion balance sheet, which consists mainly of Treasury and mortgage bonds, starting June 1.
The Bank of England on Thursday raised its benchmark interest rate to the highest level in 13 years, its fourth rate hike since December as U.K. inflation runs at 30-year highs.
The latest corporate earnings reports are also being closely watched by investors trying to get a better picture of inflation’s impact on the economy. Cereal maker Kellogg rose 4.1% and energy company ConocoPhillips rose 1.7% after reporting encouraging financial results. Etsy stumbled 15.5% after giving a weak forecast.
Twitter rose 3.6% after Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he had secured more backing for his bid to take over the company.