Wall Street extends sell-off as Powell hints at further rate hikes
U.S. stocks closed lower on Wednesday as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s congressional testimony reinforced the central bank’s objective to rein in inflation as he hinted at the likelihood of further interest rate hikes.
All three major U.S. stock indexes notched their third straight daily declines, with megacap tech- and tech-related shares weighing most.
“It seems the market is catching its breath after a huge start to the month,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at Carson Group in Omaha. “Historically June isn’t a very strong month for stocks, but this year could go down as one of the strongest Junes ever; so a small break in the run stocks have had is perfectly normal.”
Tesla Inc, along AI-related stocks such as Microsoft Corp and Nvidia Corp were the heaviest drags.
In his testimony before the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, Powell reiterated the fact that the central bank remains “strongly committed to bringing inflation back down to our 2% goal,” and said it would be “a pretty good guess” that future rate hikes are in the cards if the economy continues on its current path.
“Two hikes, which is what the dot plot told us,” Detrick said. “There could be one more rate hike, but I don’t think anyone’s buying the fact that there will be two. Markets are assuming that the Fed is very close to being done.”
At last glance, financial markets have priced in a 74.4% likelihood of another 25 basis point interest rate hike at the conclusion of July’s monetary policy meeting, according to CME’s FedWatch tool.
Powell is scheduled to testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Thursday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 102.35 points, or 0.3%, to 33,951.52, the S&P 500 lost 23.02 points, or 0.52%, to 4,365.69 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 165.10 points, or 1.21%, to 13,502.20.
Among the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, energy stocks led the gainers, rebounding from its biggest daily plunge in over a month. Tech and communication services suffered the largest percentage drops.
Chips weighed heavily on tech shares. The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index dropped 2.7%, it’s biggest daily decline this month.
Tesla Inc was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, sliding 5.5%. Barclays downgraded its rating on the stock to “equal weight” from “overweight,” saying the electric automaker’s recent rally was too sharp relative to fundamentals.
“A big portion of today’s weakness is because Tesla had one of its worst days in a while,” Detrick added. “It’s a stock that was due for a breather as well.”
“After a record win streak some kind of weakness is perfectly acceptable and normal.”
Package delivery firms FedEx and United Parcel Service Inc dropped 2.5% and 2.1%, respectively, after FedEx posted disappointing quarterly earnings and said waning global demand is pressuring its profit margins.
Crypto firms, including Coinbase, Riot Platforms, Marathon Digital and Bit Digital, gained between 1.8% and 4.2%, as Bitcoin breeched the $30,000 level.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.04-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.42-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 80 new highs and 123 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 10.62 billion shares, compared with the 11.41 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.