Fed Chief's Comments Rattle Markets

Jerome Powell's 'wait-and-see' message on rates fails to reassure investors
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 4, 2021 3:15 PM CST
Fed Chief's Comments Rattle Markets
Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Pool, File)

Stocks moved broadly lower on Wall Street Thursday as bond yields made another upward spike, renewing pressure on high-flying technology stocks, per the AP. The Dow fell 345 points, or 1.1%, to 30,924; the S&P 500 fell 51 points, or 1.3%, to 3,768; and the Nasdaq fell 274 points, or 2.1%, to 12,723. The losses came as the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose sharply during a question-and-answer session with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell during which Powell said inflation will likely pick up in the coming months. He cautioned that the increase will be temporary, and won’t be enough for the Fed to alter its low-interest rate policies. The remarks, signaling a wait-and-see stance on rates, failed to ease investors' concerns that stronger growth will lead to higher inflation.

“The uncertain market got an uncertain message,” Michael Farr of Farr, Miller & Washington tells the Wall Street Journal. “It was a reiteration of a wait-and-see approach. As the economy reopens this spring and summer, and vaccines are distributed and the coronavirus retreats, many economists expect a spending boom that will stretch available supplies of goods and services. That will likely push up prices, Powell said. The Fed chief gave no hint that the Fed would take steps to keep longer-term interest rates in check, such as by shifting some of its $80 billion in monthly Treasury purchases to longer-term securities. “We think our current policy stance is appropriate,” he said. (More stock market stories.)

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