US stocks slip in volatile session as Powell addresses lawmakers on rate hikes and forecast for the economy

US stocks slip in volatile session as Powell addresses lawmakers on rate hikes and forecast for the economy
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell speaks during his re-nomination hearing in January 2022.Brendan Smialowski/Reuters
  • US stocks closed lower after volatile trading following Fed Chair Powell's testimony to lawmakers.
  • The Fed isn't trying to pull the US economy into a recession as it battles inflation, he told the Senate Banking Committee.

US stocks fell Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell aimed to quell investor anxiety about a potential recession as the policy makers work to bring down scorching inflation through jacking up the cost of borrowing money.

The S&P 500 was on track for its third straight win before turning lower as the session came to a close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq Composite also closed lower after turning higher earlier in the day.

Stocks were on edge as investors considered a recent pile up of warnings from Wall Street banks and market luminaries about a looming economic contraction on the back of the Fed's aggressive rate-hike cycle.

Powell at a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Wednesday told lawmakers the central bank's key goal is to pull down inflation rates. Inflation in May reached 8.6%.

"We're not trying to provoke, and don't think that we will need to provoke, a recession," Powell said. However, it's essential that the Fed restores price stability, he said.


The world's largest economy is "well-positioned" to take on higher interest rates, he said. The Fed this month extended rate hikes to include a move up of 75 basis points, the biggest increase since 1994. Powell will appear Thursday before the House Financial Services Committee.

Here's where US indexes stood at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday:

Around the markets, Altria plunged after a report from the Wall Street Journal that the FDA will ban Juul vaping products from the US market.

Russia exported gold to Switzerland for the first time since launching its war against Ukraine as some buyers soften on self-sanctioning.

Oil prices fell. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 3.3% to $105.91 per barrel. Brent crude, the international benchmark, shed 0.3% at $111.39 but pared a larger loss. US President Joe Biden on Wednesday called for Congress to temporarily suspend the federal gas tax to ease the pressure of spiking prices at the pump.


Gold edged up 0.1 % to $1,840 per ounce. The 10-year yield fell 13 basis points to 3.16%.

Bitcoin gave up 3.4% at $20,134.10.