Stocks fall, yields rise as Fed sees hikes as soon as 2023

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Flags adorn the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. Stocks are off to a mixed start on Wall Street Wednesday as traders wait for the latest decision on interest rates from the Federal Reserve. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks fell further from their records and bond yields rose on Wednesday after Federal Reserve officials signaled they may start raising interest rates in about two years, earlier than they had previously thought.

The S&P 500 was 0.8% lower after the Fed released a highly anticipated set of estimates by the officials who set interest-rate policy. The typical projection was for short-term rates to rise by half a percentage point by late 2023. In March, the thinking was that short-term rates would stay at their record low of nearly zero at least into 2024.

Super-low interest rates have been one of the main sources of fuel for the stock market’s rocket ride to records, with its most recent coming on Monday. The immediate reaction within the market to the Fed’s figures was to send stocks lower and bond yields higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 300 points lower, or 0.9%, at 33,996, as of 2:25 p.m. Eastern time, more than doubling its loss from just before the Fed’s announcement. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.8%.

In the bond market, the yield on the 10-year Treasury climbed to 1.55% from 1.50% late Tuesday. The two-year yield, which moves more closely with expectations for Fed policy, rose to nearly 0.21% from 0.16%.

“This is not what the market expected,” said James McCann, deputy chief economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments.

As much as anything else, the Fed’s policy to hold short-term interest rates at a record low and to buy $120 billion in bonds each month have helped stocks rally to records. It held the line on both of those Wednesday, but the change in projections is what jarred the market.

A recent burst of inflation has raised concerns that the Fed will have to tighten the spigot on its support. Prices are leaping for used cars, airfares and other things across the economy as it roars out of its pandemic-caused coma. The consumer price index surged 5% in May from a year earlier, for example.

Oracle fell 5.9% for the biggest loss in the S&P 500 after it laid out investment plans that could drag on its upcoming profitability.

Furniture company La-Z-Boy fell 10.6% after warning investors that dramatically higher prices it’s paying for raw materials will drag down how much profit it makes from every $1 of sales.

General Motors rose 1.7% after saying it will raise spending on electric and autonomous vehicles and add two U.S. battery factories.

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