US stocks fall on concerns over rate hike, recession

F.P. Report

NEW YORK: US stocks ended lower on Wednesday as concerns over another rate hike in early May and economic recession dampened short-lived optimism from the lower-than-expected inflation in March.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 38.29 points, or 0.11 percent, to 33,646.50. The S&P 500 fell 16.99 points, or 0.41 percent, to 4,091.95. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 102.54 points, or 0.85 percent, to 11,929.34.

Seven of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended in red, with consumer discretionary and communication services sectors leading the laggards down 1.54 percent and 0.89 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, industrials and energy sectors led the gainers up 0.33 percent and 0.11 percent, respectively.

US stocks opened higher on Wednesday as US consumer price index (CPI) posted 0.1 percent of month-on-month growth in March, lower than market consensus forecast of 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent in the previous month.

Core CPI, which excludes food and energy, grew 0.4 percent month on month in March, in line with market consensus forecast and lower than 0.5 percent of expansion in February.

US stocks initially rallied after the March inflation report showed consumer prices were decelerating, prompting bets that the Federal Reserve might be done tightening, said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA, a supplier of online multi-asset trading services.

The initial stock market rally faded as inflation is still too high and as rate cut bets are still aggressively getting priced in, said Moya. “There’s still more to do I think to get core inflation back down to where we’d like it to be,” Thomas Barkin, president of Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, said on Wednesday.

The Fed still has a probability of around 65 percent to raise the benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points in early May, according to data from the CME FedWatch tool as of Wednesday afternoon.

Moreover, minutes from the March meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee issued on Wednesday afternoon drew widespread concerns on potential economic recession.

“Given their assessment of the potential economic effects of the recent banking-sector developments, the (Fed) staff’s projection at the time of the March meeting included a mild recession starting later this year, with a recovery over the subsequent two years,” said the meeting minutes.

Moya added that investors also might not necessarily want to aggressively pile into risky assets before the big banks kickoff earnings season on Friday. (APP)