Stocks fell sharply Thursday and Treasury yields hit a one-year high as fears of higher inflation resurfaced despite Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell downplaying the risks of increasing price pressures.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 336 points, or 1.05%, to 31,625, the S&P 500 was down 1.57% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 2.22%.
Tech stocks were falling the most Thursday as the high-growth stocks can be more vulnerable to inflation pressures. Companies that benefited from the pandemic were being sold as the outlook for the U.S. economy brightened.
U.S. Treasury bond yields have been surging – a sign of inflation sentiment – and that has many believing the Fed could be prompted to raise interest rates.
But Powell said it might take more than three years for inflation to hit the Fed’s target of 2%, meaning rates won’t be lifted anytime before 2023.
The 10-year Treasury yield traded at 1.485% on Thursday – it rose as high as 1.614%, the highest level in a year.
Stocks were lower even after jobless claims last week dipped as disruptions from severe winter storms failed to spur a rise in Americans seeking first-time unemployment benefits.
The Dow set a record high Wednesday after Powell said the Fed would remain supportive of the economy and he downplayed concerns over near-term inflation.
House Democrats, meanwhile, expect to pass President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Friday. It would then move to the Senate for a vote, with hopes of sending it to Biden before March 14.