Stocks extend losses as investors weigh hawkish Powell remarks, more corporate earnings

U.S. stocks fell sharply on Friday as investors weighed a bevy of corporate earnings and braced for more aggressive interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve in coming months.

The S&P 500 tumbled 1.7%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 580 points, placing both major indexes at a five-week low. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite declined 1.7%. Meanwhile, the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield remained at 2.9%, the highest level since December 2018.

Speaking at a panel hosted by the International Monetary Fund Thursday, Powell said a 50-basis point rate increase was “on the table” for May when the U.S. central bank holds its next policy-setting meeting. The Fed chair also reiterated that policymakers were committed to “front-end loading” inflation-fighting efforts.

“We really are committed to using our tools to get 2% inflation back,” Powell said in remarks before European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde and other officials, referring to the Fed’s target for annual price increases.

“We’re definitely in the cards for a 50 basis point rate hike in the May meeting,” Capital2Market President Keith Bliss said on Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday (video above). “The market is pretty good at dictating, if not indicating, where this is going to go.”

With the headline Consumer Price Index at its highest level in four decades, the U.S. Federal Reserve has recently signaled aggressive monetary tightening is underway to rein in rising price levels despite warnings from experts that moving too quickly could result in an economic contraction.

“The big question is whether the earnings can really sustain this kind of a macro backdrop of slower growth and Fed policy,” Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Chief Investment Officer Deepak Puri said on Yahoo Finance Live earlier this week. “It seems certain companies can — historically that’s been the case. What’s different this time is really the trifecta, which is higher costs of capital, quantitative tightening, plus a lack of … a big fiscal stimulus.”

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