S&P 500 drops as hawkish Fed official comments weigh

Stocks have retreated in recent days after a strong month-long rally. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK - Wall Street’s S&P 500 stock index fell on Thursday as hawkish comments from a US Federal Reserve official and data showing the labour market remained tight led some investors to worry about more aggressive interest rate hikes.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the central bank needs to keep raising rates given that its tightening so far “had only limited effects on observed inflation.”

Stocks have retreated in recent days after a strong month-long rally spurred by softer-than-expected inflation reports that raised hopes the Fed would temper its rate hikes.

“The Fed is still talking up, generally, interest rates,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Investment Management in Chicago. “There might be some disagreement about the pace. But interest rates are not coming down anytime soon.”

According to preliminary data, the S&P 500 lost 11.01 points, or 0.26 per cent, to end at 3,947.78 points, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 38.23 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 11,145.43. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.18 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 33,556.09.

Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, suggesting the labor market remained tight. A report on Wednesday detailed strong retail sales growth last month, indicating the economy has weathered rate hikes.

Bets from traders of a 75 basis point hike at the Fed’s next meeting climbed to 19 per cent from about 15 per cent a day earlier, according to the CME Group’s FedWatch tool. Most investors still expect a 50 basis point increase.

In company news, Cisco Systems shares rose after the company raised its full-year revenue and profit forecast with supply chain hurdles easing.

Shares of Macy’s surged after the department store chain raised its annual profit forecast on resilient demand for high-end clothes and beauty products. REUTERS

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