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Stocks fall for third day as investors mull rate hike, Powell remarks


U.S. stocks closed lower Thursday to cap a turbulent session after the Federal Reserve’s latest policy announcement and subsequent remarks from Chair Jerome Powell sent markets into disarray.

The benchmark S&P 500 slid 0.9%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 100 points, or 0.4%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite tumbled 1.4%. The moves extend a Fed-induced sell-off Wednesday that saw the S&P 500 and Dow each erase around 1.7% and the Nasdaq plummet 1.8%, and mark a third straight day of declines for U.S. equity markets.

Elsewhere in major moves in the aftermath of the Fed’s decision, the rate-sensitive 2-year Treasury note held near 4.1%, the highest since 2007, while the 10-year remained near 3.5%, its highest level since 2011.

On Wednesday, U.S. central bank officials raised interest rates by 75 basis points for a third straight time, bringing the federal funds rate to a new range of 3.0% to 3.25% from a current range between 2.25% and 2.5%.

Policymakers also expect to lift rates higher than before and maintain that level, projecting the fed funds rate rising to 4.4% by the end of this year and 4.6% by the end of 2023. That’s up from 3.4% for this year and 3.8% previously.

The Fed’s move was followed Thursday by a host of central banks across the globe. The Bank of England raised its key rate by 50 basis points, and Switzerland’s National Bank hiked by 75 basis points. Market observers also expect the European Central Bank to raise rates when it meets next month.

U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell pauses during a news conference after Federal Reserve raised its target interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point in Washington, U.S., September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell pauses during a news conference after Federal Reserve raised its target interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point in Washington, U.S., September 21, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“With the new rate projections, the Fed is engineering a hard landing – a soft landing is almost out of the question,” Principal Global Investors Chief Global Strategist Seema Shah said. “Powell’s admission that there will be below-trend growth for a period should be translated as central bank speak for ‘recession.’”

Certain economic data points reflected the Fed’s campaign. Mortgage rates continued a spiral upward, nearly hitting a 6.3% on a 30-year fixed loan and remaining at their highest level since 2008.

Elsewhere, initial jobless claims edged up to 213,000 in the week ended Sept. 17 from a downwardly revised 208,000 the prior week — the lowest since May — the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists called for 217,000 claims, according to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

In corporate news, shares of Lennar (LEN) rose 2% on the heels of earnings, even as the homebuilder said its third quarter results were impacted by higher rates.

KB Home (KBH) was also a mover after the company cited headwinds from ongoing supply chain constraints and warned that those issues may impact fourth quarter results. Shares slid 5%.

The S&P’s losses Wednesday marked the index’s 29th decline this year between 1% and 2% – the most since 2008, which had 34 such declines, per data from Compound Advisors. It was able to avoid a 30th on Thursday.

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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