Minutes From Fed Meeting Give Markets a Boost

Central bank is ready to raise interest rates
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 16, 2022 4:24 PM CST
S&P 500 Shakes Off Slump After Fed Releases Minutes
In this photo provided by the New York Stock Exchange, George Ettinger, right, works with fellow traders on the floor, Wednesday Feb. 16, 2022.   (Courtney Crow/New York Stock Exchange via AP)

Stocks shook off an early slump and ended mixed on Wall Street Wednesday after minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest meeting showed policymakers still leaning toward moving decisively to fight inflation. The S&P 500 wound up with a slight gain, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq edged lower. Treasury yields bounced around as traders tried to parse the latest update from the Fed. The S&P 500 rose 3.94 points, or 0.1%, to 4,475.01. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 54.57 points, or 0.2%, to 34,934.27. The Nasdaq fell 15.66 points, or 0.1%, to 14,124.09. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 2.85 points, or 0.1%, to 2,079.31.

Technology and communications stocks were the heaviest weights on the broader market, offsetting gains in energy, industrials, and other sectors, the AP reports. Facebook's parent, Meta, shed 2%. Rising inflation has been crimping profits and revenue for businesses in a wide range of industries. Many companies have been raising prices to offset the costs, including cereal maker Kellogg. That has raised concerns that consumers could eventually pull back spending, though the latest report from the Commerce Department shows that retail sales remained strong in January as the threat of the omicron variant of COVID-19 faded.

Wall Street has been focused on the Federal Reserve, looking for clues about how far and how quickly the central bank will begin raising interest rates. Traders see a 44% chance for a first hike in March of half a percentage point, double the traditional move. In their discussion of the outlook for monetary policy, most Fed policymakers suggested that a faster pace of increases in the central bank's benchmark short-term interest rate than what the Fed followed after its last rate hikes in 2015 "would likely be warranted, should the economy evolve generally in line with the Committee’s expectation." Policymakers also noted during the meeting that it would be appropriate for the Fed to make "a significant reduction" in the size of its balance sheet. (More stock market stories.)

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