After an initial jolt, stocks gave up gains Friday morning after Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank is “prepared to raise rates further,” during his widely anticipated remarks at the annual Jackson Hole Economic Symposium in Wyoming.
Wall Street initially reacted by inching upward, with the Nasdaq Composite gaining as much as 1%. But investors appeared to adopt a dimmer interpretation as they digested the speech.
The S&P 500 (^GSPC) edged down by 0.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) lost 0.1%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) decreased 0.4%, setting the major averages up for another loss after Powell delivered a cautious message reiterating the Fed’s fight to bring inflation back to its 2% target.
The negative turn on Wall Street comes after Thursday’s retreat when stocks finished lower across the board as the Nasdaq fell nearly 2%, forfeiting gains from an early rally spurred by Nvidia’s (NVDA) strong earnings report.
Powell’s remarks reinforced prior comments by Boston Fed president Susan Collins — who spoke to Yahoo Finance’s Jennifer Schonberger in an interview from Jackson Hole — suggesting higher interest rates may be needed to tame inflation.
Last year, stocks sold off sharply during Powell’s speech in Jackson Hole, which said the Fed would continue raising interest rates “until the job is done” bringing down inflation. Since that speech, interest rates have risen an additional 300 basis points with the fed funds rate now at its highest level since 2001.
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