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“Stocks fell Thursday after rallying a day earlier, while energy prices steadied after soaring to multi-year highs.
The S&P 500 fluctuated between gains and losses, and the Nasdaq came under pressure in afternoon trading. The S&P 500 had jumped by 1.9% on Wednesday as each of the Dow and Nasdaq also advanced. The move higher came following affirmation from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that the central bank will take a measured approach to raising interest rates amid geopolitical uncertainty helped to momentarily appease volatile markets.
Namely, investor focus turned to Powell’s testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, during which the Fed chief said explicitly that he would back a quarter-point interest rate hike following the Fed’s March meeting later this month. Powell left open the possibility that the Fed would raise interest rates and tighten more aggressively later this year, however, given the current, persistent inflationary pressures rippling across an otherwise solid U.S. economy.
“By expressing that 25 basis points is the likely path of the Fed, that takes away some of the uncertainty. And there was a big debate in the markets about whether it would be 25 basis points or 50 basis points out of the gate,” Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance, told Yahoo Finance Live on Wednesday.
“Clearly, [with] the conflict in Ukraine and the sanctions potentially dampening global economic growth, that makes it more likely that the Fed would want to go a little more slowly,” Zaccarelli added. “But on the other hand, inflation is rising … It’s our concern that they will have to go for longer and higher than people are currently expecting.”
And a continued melt higher in energy prices has further stoked inflation concerns, though oil slowed a recent gain on Thursday. U.S. crude oil prices jumped above $116 per barrel to reach a more than decade high before retreating slightly, as investors monitored the potential energy-market fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. And meanwhile Brent crude — the international standard — rocketed further to near $120 per barrel.”
Stock market data: Yahoo Finance