Stocks drifted to a mixed finish on Wall Street on Thursday as central banks around the world keep cranking interest rates higher in their fight against inflation.
The S&P 500 rose 16.20 points, or 0.4per cent , to 4,381.89, even though the majority of stocks fell.
A rebound for technology stocks helped to overshadow losses elsewhere in the market and keep the benchmark index afloat.
The gains for high-growth stocks also drove the Nasdaq composite to a market-leading gain of 128.41 points, or 1per cent , to 13,630.61. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.81 points, or less than 0.1per cent , to 33,946.71.
The Bank of England hiked its main interest rate by a bigger margin than expected to a 15-year high. Central banks in Norway, Switzerland and Turkey also raised borrowing rates.
In the United States, meanwhile, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell reiterated his belief that inflation is still too high and that further increases to rates may be necessary.
The Fed held interest rates steady at its last meeting after raising rates aggressively throughout 2022 and into 2023 to tame painfully high inflation.
Inflation has cooled somewhat since last summer, but the Fed has signalled it may raise rates two more times this year as it tries to push inflation down to its stated goal of 2per cent .
Mr Powell testified before a Senate committee on Thursday, a day after appearing before a House of Representatives committee.
Central banks worldwide have been raising interest rates to make borrowing more difficult and slow economic growth in order to stifle inflation. The strategy risks going too far in stalling growth and dragging economies into a recession.
Economists and analysts have been warning that the US could slip into a recession before 2023 ends, but resilient consumer spending and a strong jobs market have been bolstering the economy.
High interest rates, though, have already slowed manufacturing and other parts of the US economy. They have also helped cause three high-profile failures in the US banking system. The banking industry remains under pressure, even after the federal government acted quickly to provide support.
The US stock market has been “taking a little bit of a breather” following a five-week rally, said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.
The big focus in the coming weeks will probably be any economic data, including a big report on inflation next week, that could give investors a better sense of how the Fed will proceed.
“The Fed is pretty close to done, if not done already,” he said. “The stock market is in a holding pattern waiting to see new economic data and the Fed’s reaction.”
Press Association – AP