The week on Wall St.
Stock prices fell last week in response to the Fed’s plan to combat inflation, which staked out a more aggressive stance than investors had anticipated.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.28%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 1.27%. The Nasdaq Composite index dropped 3.86% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, slid 2.05%.1,2,3
Fed Roils Markets
After a positive start to the week, stock prices turned lower on a more hawkish tone from Fed officials. On Tuesday, investors were surprised by comments from Fed governor Lael Brainard, one of the Fed’s more dovish members, who suggested the Fed could take a more aggressive approach with interest rates.
The unease extended into Wednesday when minutes of the last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting were released, signaling a potentially faster pace in both interest rate hikes and the wind-down of the Fed’s balance sheet. Yields climbed steadily throughout the week as the bond market digested this new information. Particularly hard hit were high valuation stocks, as reflected in the 4% drop in the Nasdaq.
After raising the federal funds rate by 0.25% last month, the minutes from the March FOMC meeting made it clear the Fed is serious about fighting inflation with higher interest rates.
Fed officials indicated they might have hiked rates by a half percentage point in March had it not been for the uncertainty created by the invasion of Ukraine. Multiple Fed officials suggested that future rate hikes may reach 0.5%. Fed officials also discussed allowing up to a $95 billion monthly run off the Fed’s balance sheet, a faster pace than the market expected.4
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