U.S. stocks descended Thursday morning as Wall Street reeled from another sizable rate hike by Federal Reserve officials and assessed similar moves by central bank officials across the Atlantic. A disappointing reading on consumer spending also weighed on sentiment.
The European Central Bank and the Bank of England followed the U.S. Fed in raising interest rates by 50 basis points Thursday morning. The BoE’s hike brought rates in the country to their highest since 2008.
The S&P 500 (^GSPC) slid 1.4%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) shed around 380 points, or 1.1%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) dropped 1.7%.
Meanwhile, the government’s retail sales report showed spending fell sharply in November as the key holiday shopping season kicked off. The latest retail sales reading showed a decline of 0.6% over the prior month but a 6.5% increase from November 2021.
Tesla (TSLA) opened flat Thursday after a regulatory filing showed CEO Elon Musk sold approximately 21,995,000 shares of the company, or roughly $3.6 billion worth, during the three-day period ending Dec. 14. Shares of Tesla are down about 20% in December so far and roughly 55% year-to-date after a sell-off of the electric-vehicle giant accelerated in recent days.
Shares of Lennar (LEN) were down 3% at the start of trading, even after the homebuilder reported an 11% jump in fourth-quarter profit late Wednesday.
The moves Thursday morning follow declines across the major averages in the previous trading session after the Fed delivered a 50-basis-point increase to its benchmark interest rate. Fed Chair Jerome Powell also emphasized that he and colleagues will continue to lift rates in 2023 to an upwardly revised projected terminal rate of 5.1%.
Wednesday’s half-percentage point hike, which brought the Fed funds rate to a range of 4.25%-4.5%, did mark a slowdown from the 75-basis-point increases at each of the Fed’s past four policy meetings — the most aggressive stretch of hikes since the 1980s.
Despite a slowdown in the pace and magnitude of increases, Powell continuously asserted that the work by him and his colleagues to tackle stubbornly high inflation was far from over.
“Now that we’ve raised interest rates 425 basis points this year and we’re into restrictive territory, it’s now not so important how fast we go — it’s far more important to think, what is the ultimate level?” Powell said in a press conference with reporters Wednesday. “At a certain point, the question will become, how long do we remain restrictive?”
The Fed’s “dot plot,” which shows estimates by policymakers for interest rates, showed expectations the federal funds rate will increase in 2023 to between 5.1% and 5.4% and in 2024 to still be at a median rate of 4.1% from a previously estimated 3.9% – a change strategists point out is the only real surprise revision to the central bank’s outlook.
“These estimates are notably more hawkish than their previous forecasts and were not trailed well in advance as is normally the case with the Fed,” William Blair macro analyst Richard de Chazal said in a note.
Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc
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