NEW YORK, June 19 (Xinhua) — U.S. equities declined for the week as investors assessed the Federal Reserve’s policy stance, while digesting the latest economic data.
For the week ending Friday, the Dow slid 3.5 percent, the S&P 500 decreased 1.9 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite lost 0.3 percent.
The S&P U.S. Listed China 50 index, which is designed to track the performance of the 50 largest Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges by total market cap, logged a weekly slide of 1.3 percent.
The latest comments from the U.S. Fed unnerved the financial markets this week.
A U.S. Federal Reserve official said on Friday that he expects the central bank’s first interest rate hike to come in late 2022 as inflation picks up faster than previous forecasts had anticipated.
“I put us starting in late 2022,” St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said in an interview with CNBC. “I think it’s natural that we’ve tilted a little bit more hawkish here to contain inflationary pressures.”
Bullard said he expects inflation to run at 3 percent this year and 2.5 percent in 2022 before drifting back down to the Fed’s target of 2 percent.
Bullard’s remarks came after the Fed on Wednesday kept its benchmark interest rates unchanged at the record-low level of near zero, while reiterating inflation surge is “transitory.”
About 13 of 18 Fed officials see the first rate hike occurring by the end of 2023, compared with seven in March, according to the Fed’s economic projections released Wednesday.
But Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has played down the significance of these projections.
“These are of course individual projections, not a committee forecast. They are not a plan,” Powell said Wednesday at a press briefing, denying any discussion of rate liftoff in a particular year.
“The Fed is largely maintaining its dovish stance,” analysts at Zacks Investment Management said in a note on Saturday, adding “we would argue that the financial media and pundits alike place far too much importance on Fed statements.”
“A common worry is that Fed tapering and eventual rate hikes will doom the bull market, but this fear is not validated by recent history,” they said, noting “Fed statements may be meaningful to short-term traders, but for long-term investors, they matter far less.”
Wall Street also sifted through newly-released economic data.
U.S. initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, increased by 37,000 to 412,000 in the week ending June 12, the Department of Labor reported on Thursday. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast new claims to fall to a seasonally adjusted 365,000.
U.S. retail sales dropped 1.3 percent in May, the Commerce Department reported on Tuesday. Economists polled by Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 0.7-percent decline.
Meanwhile, a key report showed bigger-than-expected inflationary pressures.
The producer price index in the United States rose 0.8 percent in May for a 6.6 percent yearly increase, according to the Labor Department. Both numbers were hotter than expected.