Fed’s Powell testifies as stocks sink, gas tax holiday on tap: LIVE UPDATES

Symbol Price Change %Change
I:DJI $30,530.25 +641.47 +2.15%
SP500 $3,764.79 +89.95 +2.45%
I:COMP $11,069.30 +270.95 +2.51%

US stocks edged lower Wednesday after rallying Tuesday U.S. stocks were heading lower early Wednesday morning after rallying Tuesday off their worst week since March 2020, offering investors a reprieve from a recent stretch of whipsaw trading that had sent stocks and cryptocurrencies falling.

The S&P 500 gained 89.95 points, or 2.4%, to 3764.79, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 641.47, or 2.1%, to 30530.25. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 270.95 points, or 2.5%, to 11069.30. 

The U.S. stock market was closed Monday for the Juneteenth federal holiday. Investors scrambled to unload riskier assets amid growing fears that central bankers will plunge the U.S. economy into a recession.

The benchmark S&P 500 finished the week 5.8% lower, its largest one-week decline in more than two years. 

Stocks have been mostly sliding in recent weeks as investors adjust to higher interest rates that the Federal Reserve and other central banks are increasingly doling out to temper record-high inflation.

Investors are worried that the Fed risks slowing economic growth too much and bringing on a recession. Investors are looking ahead to what Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will tell Congress on Wednesday, the first of two days of testimony as part of the central bank’s semi-annual monetary policy report. 

“For now, the fundamental catalyst for a more sustained rebound seems fragile, with all eyes on Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony ahead to further drive expectations of policy outlook and inflation,” Yeap Jun Rong, market strategist at IG in Singapore, said in a commentary. 

The worries over inflation and interest rates have been worsened by a spike in energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The price of U.S. crude oil is up about 52% for the year. That has taken a bigger bite out of people’s wallets at the gas pump and is prompting a slowdown in spending elsewhere. 

Meanwhile, Asian shares declined Wednesday. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 0.4% to finish at 26,149.55. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.2% to 6,508.50. South Korea’s Kospi tumbled 2.7% to 2,342.81. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped nearly 2.0% to 21,132.42, while the Shanghai Composite sank 1.1% to 3,269.63 

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