U.S. stocks close lower on hawkish FOMC minutes

  • World
  • Thursday, 23 May 2024

NEW YORK, May 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks ended lower on Wednesday as investors digested hawkish minutes of the Federal Reserve's early May policy meeting and awaited Nvidia Corp.'s earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 201.95 points, or 0.51 percent, to 39,671.04. The S&P 500 sank 14.40 points, or 0.27 percent, to 5,307.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 31.08 points, or 0.18 percent, to 16,801.54.

Eight of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended in red, with energy and utilities leading the laggards by losing 1.83 percent and 1.18 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, health and industrials led the gainers by rising 0.20 percent and 0.15 percent, respectively.

Minutes from the April 30-May 1 Federal Open Market Committee policy meeting, released Wednesday, revealed policymakers' concerns about the appropriate timing for easing monetary policy.

"Participants observed that while inflation had eased over the past year, in recent months there had been a lack of further progress toward the committee's 2 percent objective," the summary said. "The recent monthly data had showed significant increases in components of both goods and services price inflation."

The minutes also indicated that "various participants mentioned a willingness to tighten policy further should risks to inflation materialize in a way that such an action became appropriate." Despite this, several Fed officials, including Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Governor Christopher Waller, have expressed doubts that the next move would be a rate hike.

Additionally, the Mortgage Bankers Association's (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey on Wednesday showed a 1.9 percent increase in applications for the week ending May 17, compared to the previous week. This rise also marked a 1.9 percent increase in the MBA's Market Composite Index, which measures application volume. On an unadjusted basis, the index increased by 1.1 percent from the prior week, rising for the third straight week.

Chief market strategist Rich Steinberg at the Colony Group pointed to high expectations for Nvidia's quarterly results due later on Wednesday, as well as Fed minutes that suggested not everyone on the rate-setting committee has closed the door on further rate hikes.

"People are taking profits to see where they can re-enter," Steinberg said, noting some signs of rotation within the Dow Jones Industrial Average. "If Nvidia does not come through, you'll see that reflected in Apple, Salesforce and the other tech names, in particular."

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