US stocks end mostly down after latest Fed minutes

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during morning trading, on Feb 22, 2023, in New York City. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK - Wall Street stocks finished a choppy session mostly lower on Wednesday as markets assessed the significance of minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting, which revealed that nearly all policy makers favoured a smaller interest rate hike.

But since that Feb 1 meeting, January inflation and employment data have suggested that pricing pressures remain acute, stoking fears that the US central bank’s rate-hiking cycle could be prolonged.

Oxford Economics anticipates that the Fed will again hike rates by 25 basis points in both March and May, while adding that “the risk, given the economic and inflation data released since the last meeting, is that the Fed raises rates further,” according to a note on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.3 per cent at 33,045.09.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.3 per cent to 3,991.05, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.1 per cent to 11,507.07.

Among individual companies, Palo Alto Networks jumped 12.5 per cent as the cybersecurity company lifted full-year targets following better results than anticipated.

Intel fell 2.3 per cent after slashing its dividend by around two thirds so that it can finance the “critical investments needed” to execute its transformation during a period of macroeconomic uncertainty. AFP

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