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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Stocks Decline as Traders Bet on Fed Rate Hike

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This article was updated at 9:55 a.m.

Wall Street declined in morning trading Friday, losing ground as traders bet on the likelihood of the Federal Reserve’s next interest rate increase soon.

Major indexes spent most of the day trading in a tight range, trading little more than a tenth of a percent apart from early morning lows. But as the final hour neared, investors appeared more uneasy, and the market later dropped sharply, reversing a gain that had pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average through a record of 26,621.19 points just after the opening bell.

Health care stocks were the strongest performing sector of the day. That group has faced declining shares this week on renewed concerns that political dysfunction in Washington could roll back costs of President Trump’s effort to undo the Affordable Care Act.

Stocks in a handful of other sectors, like technology and industrials, also fell. Meanwhile, markets across Europe gave up early gains as the European Central Bank sounded less worried about the possibility of higher rates of inflation and inflationary pressures rising in the region.

Speculation about a November rate increase by the Federal Reserve has receded with a growing number of economists and analysts predicting the Fed will raise interest rates only once in 2019. Much of the speculation around the Fed’s next move has centered on how fast the dollar’s rise this year would trigger inflation if the central bank did not begin raising rates more aggressively.

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