U.S. stocks closed lower on Wednesday, extending losses from the previous session, amid indications the Federal Reserve will continue to hold interest rates higher for longer to contain inflation.
Prospect of a possible downgrade of several U.S. lenders by Fitch Ratings weighed as well.
In addition to the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting, investors also digested the latest batch of economic data.
The major averages all ended firmly down in negative territory, with the Nasdaq suffering a sharper loss.
The Dow ended with a loss of 180.65 points or 0.52 percent at 34,765.74. The S&P 500 shed 33.53 points or 0.76 percent, as it settled at 4,404.33, while the Nasdaq dropped 156.42 points or 1.15 percent to 13,474.63.
The minutes from the Federal Reserve’s meeting on July 25 & 26, released this afternoon, showed “most of the central bank officials continued to see significant upside risks to inflation, which could require further tightening of monetary policy.”
The minutes also showed that a few participants were hesitant to embrace further hikes, on concerns that the tightening in financial conditions since the beginning of last year could “prove more substantial than anticipated.”
The central bank lifted its benchmark rate to a range of 5.25 to 5.5 percent last month, the highest level in 22 years.
A report from the Commerce Department showed new residential construction in the U.S. saw a substantial rebound in the month of July.
The Commerce Department said housing starts surged 3.9 percent to an annual rate of 1.452 million in July after plunging by 11.7 percent to a revised rate of 1.398 million in June. Economists had expected housing starts to increase to a rate of 1.448 million from the 1.434 million originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, the report said building permits inched up by 0.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.442 million after tumbling by 3.7 percent to a revised rate of 1.441 million in June. Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, were expected to climb to a rate of 1.463 million from the 1.440 million originally reported for the previous month.
The Federal Bank’s report said industrial production in the U.S. fell by 0.2 percent in July, extending the 0.4% drop in the previous month. Manufacturing production in the U.S. decreased 0.7 percent in July, compared to the same month last year.
Intel ended down by 3.6 percent. Walgreens Boots Alliance, P&G, Caterpillar, McDonald and Boeing shed 1 to 1.5 percent.
Meta Platforms ended down nearly 2.5 percent. Apple, Alphabet, IBM, Goldman Sachs, Cisco Systems, Walt Disney and Salesforce.com also closed weak.
Travelers Companies shares climbed about 1.25 percent. Home Depot ended modestly higher.
In overseas trading, Asian stocks retreated on Wednesday, with uncertainty over the Federal Reserve’s future rate hike path, more disappointing Chinese economic data and fresh concerns over the health of the U.S. banking sector keeping investors nervous.
The major European markets ended mixed on Wednesday, with investors assessing UK inflation data, and the outlook for interest rates. Lingering concerns about the health of China’s economy continued to weigh on sentiment.
The pan European Stoxx 600 edged down 0.06 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 ended down 0.44 percent, and France’s CAC 40 shed 0.1 percent, while Germany’s DAX crept up 0.14 percent.
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