Stocks waver on Wall Street ahead of speech by Fed chair

Stocks waver on Wall Street ahead of speech by Fed chair

NEW YORK Stocks fell Wednesday afternoon ahead of a speech from Jerome Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, about the outlook for the economy, and inflation.

The S&P 500 fell 0.1% as of 12: 01 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 143 points, or 0.4%, to 33,708 and the Nasdaq rose 0.3%. The

Major Indexes have been unstable as the economy and financial market deal with stubbornly high inflation and aggressive interest rate hikes by the Fed. The benchmark S&P 500 as well as the Dow are on track to close November in the green. This would be their second consecutive monthly gain.

Treasury yields gained ground. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, rose to 3. 77% was 3. 75% late Tuesday.

U.S. crude oil prices jumped 3.3%.

Banks, industrial companies and others fell, which weighed down the overall market. Bank of America lost 1%, while 3M dropped 2.9%.

Markets were mostly higher in Asia and Europe.

Investors are closely following a speech by Powell at Brookings Institution Wednesday afternoon for clues about what the central bank will do next to fight inflation. The benchmark rate at the central bank has been raised to 3. 75% has been raised to 4% by the central bank, an increase of close to zero in March.

The goal is to make it more difficult to borrow money and slow down the economy to reduce inflation. There is a possibility that the Fed could slow down the economy too much and cause a recession. The economy has been slowing but there are strong pockets of activity that have given markets hope that an economic recession could be avoided. Wednesday’s government estimate showed that the economy grew by 2.9% annually between July and September. This is an increase from its initial estimate.

Consumers continue to spend despite inflation pinching their wallets. The overall employment market is strong.

Wall Street is hopeful that the Fed will slow down the pace and scale of its interest rate increases. The central bank has made it clear that it intends to raise interest rates until inflation is under control. The Fed and investors continue to be focused on the employment market. Although it has been a strength for the wider economy, it makes it harder to cool inflation.

“If there’s a weaker labor force, we’ll likely see lower wage pressure,” Scott Ladner (chief investment officer at Horizon Investments) said. “That’s sort of the last shoe to drop with inflation.”

Economic data on Wednesday showed signs of a softening labor market, though it remains relatively strong historically. According to the U.S. government, October saw more job openings drop than economists expected. ADP, a human resources company, reported a decrease in private sector employment growth in November.

Investors can get more information Thursday on the employment sector, including a report on weekly unemployment claims. Friday will see the release of the closely-watched monthly report on job market.

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Yuri Kageyama and Matt Ott contributed to this report.

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