US stocks fell on Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy update.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 140 points. The S&P 500 was trading 0.3% lower after hitting an all-time high in the previous session. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite canceled previous gains and traded flat.
Nine out of eleven S&P 500 sectors were negative, pushing communications services and financials down.
The economic reopening games offered some support to the broader market. The stocks of the major airlines American Airlines, United and Delta all traded higher. Royal Caribbean and Carnival both rose 2% after upgrading Wolfe Research.
The Fed will end its two-day meeting on Wednesday. The central bank is not expected to take monetary policy action, but it could signal that it is considering easing its bond buying policy. The Fed will also release new forecasts on Wednesday that could point to a possible first rate hike in 2023. Previously, the Fed officials had not agreed on a rate hike until 2023.
The Fed’s statement and forecast will be released at 2 p.m. ET, followed by a press conference from Chairman Jerome Powell 30 minutes later.
Jeremy Siegel of the Wharton School said central bankers would raise their forecasts for the next rate hike, predicting the stock market could fall as a result.
“I think you’re going to see a big shift towards a more aggressive tightening stance, and honestly I’m not sure the market is ready for that,” the finance professor said on CNBC’s “Mid-Term Report.”
The meeting comes as inflation warms and producer prices rise in May at the highest annual rate in nearly 11 years, a report on Tuesday showed. This has led some, including Paul Tudor Jones, to urge the central bank to rethink its loose monetary policy.
The central bank buys $ 120 billion worth of bonds every month as the economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
“The drama this week will be whether the Fed is stuck or admitting that inflation is rising and that the Fed needs to tighten,” said Brad McMillan, CIO, Commonwealth Financial Network. “Since the Fed has a dual mandate – unemployment and inflation – it suggests that it should indeed focus on unemployment rather than inflation.
Minutes from the last Fed meeting showed that some Fed officials said it might be appropriate to discuss adjustments to the bond purchase program should the economy continue to recover. Economists predict that while some of these discussions may begin, specific details won’t be revealed until later this year.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who testified before the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday, said the higher price pressures should not continue in the long run.
“I said earlier that I see important temporary influences at work and I won’t assume it will be permanent,” said Yellen. “But we continue to monitor inflation data very carefully and, importantly for the long-term inflation outlook, we see inflation expectations on most measures … as well anchored.”
On Wednesday, China said it would release industrial metals like copper, aluminum and zinc from its national reserves in an effort to lower commodity prices. The copper price fell more than 10% from its record high and entered correction territory on Tuesday.
– CNBC’s Jeff Cox contributed to the coverage.
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