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Market Pulse: Dow ends lower and stock market gives up gains as Fed’s Powell sets stage for interest-rate hikes starting in March

U.S. stocks reversed course to end lower Wednesday, with Wall Street mostly erasing gains after the Federal Reserve—and Chairman Jerome Powell in particular— was viewed as maintaining a fairly hawkish stance on monetary policy.

“I would say the committee is of a mind to raise the federal-funds rate at the March meeting assuming that conditions are appropriate for doing so,” Powell said in a press conference after the Fed’s two-day strategy meeting. He also emphasized that inflation could be worse than the central bank anticipates and that it needs to be adaptable to economic conditions as it moves to normalize policy in combating out-of-control pricing pressures.

Comments from the Fed boss come after the central bank issued its first policy statement of 2022, saying that “it will soon be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal-funds rate.” Market-based projections point to four or five rate increases this year, according to CME Group data/

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.38% skidded down about 130 points, or 0.4%, to reach around 34,168, but had touched 34,815.67 at the session’s high.
The S&P 500 index SPX, -0.15% closed around 0.2% lower at about 4,350, with an intraday peak at 4,453.23.
The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.02% finished in positive territory but mostly flat at around 13,542, but had touched an intraday high at 14,002.65.
The 10-year Treasury note yield TMUBMUSD10Y, 1.868% rose about 8 basis points to around 1.86%.
All closing levels are on a preliminary basis

In corporate news, electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc. TSLA, +2.07% beat on the top and bottom line but its shares were trading lower in premarket action, and investors were also parsing a quarterly report from Intel Corp. INTC, +1.35%

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