Stocks fell on Wall Street in afternoon trading on Thursday and added to weekly losses for major indexes as central banks around the world hiked interest rates to fight inflation.
The S&P 500 fell 0.4% as of 3:53 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered from an early slide to add 16 points, or 0.1%, to 30,200 and the Nasdaq fell 0.9%. Every major index is solidly on track for weekly losses.
The losses were broad and led by retailers, banks and industrial companies. Starbucks fell 3.9%, American Express dropped 3% and UPS slid 2.9%.
Health care stocks were among the few bright spots. Johnson & Johnson rose 2.2%.
Smaller company stocks fell more than the broader market in a sign that investors were worried about the economy. The Russell 2000 fell 1.9%.
Bond yields rose. The yield on the 2-year Treasury, which tends to follow expectations for Federal Reserve action, rose significantly to 4.11% from 4.02% late Wednesday. It is trading at its highest level since 2007. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, jumped to 3.69% from 3.51% from late Wednesday.
Investors are worried that the Fed could get even more aggressive on interest rates, but if prices stabilize that won't need to happen, said Barry Bannister, chief equity strategist at Stifel. It could take more than a year for that process to play out, he said.
“The question is, what's the patience level for both the Fed and the market,” he said.
Central banks in Europe and Asia raised interests a day after the Federal Reserve made another big rate hike and signaled that more were on the way.
Britain’s central bank raised its key interest rate by another half-percentage point. Switzerland’s central bank raised its benchmark lending rate by its biggest margin to date, 0.75 percentage points, and said it couldn’t rule out more hikes. Central banks in Norway and the Philippines also raised interest rates.
The Fed and other central banks are raising interest rates in to make borrowing more expensive. The goal is to slow economic growth enough to tame inflation, but not so much that economies slip into a recession. Wall Street is worried that the Fed may be pumping the brakes too hard on an already slowing economy, which makes steering into a recession more likely.
On Wednesday, Fed chair Jerome Powell stressed his resolve to lift rates high enough to drive inflation back toward the central bank’s 2% goal. Powell said the Fed has just started to get to that level with this most recent increase. The U.S. central bank lifted its benchmark rate, which affects many consumer and business loans, to a range of 3% to 3.25%. That is the fifth rate hike this year and up from zero at the start of the year.
The Fed also released a forecast known as a “dot plot” that showed it expects its benchmark rate to be 4.4% by year’s end, a full point higher than envisioned in June.
Companies are closing in on the end of the third quarter and preparing for the next big round of earnings reports, though some early reports have trickled out. Homebuilder Lennar rose 2.6% after reporting strong financial results for its fiscal third-quarter. Fellow homebuilder KB Home fell 4% after a warning about supply chain problems and a mixed financial report.
AP Business Writers Joe McDonald and Matt Ott contributed to this report.