Le Pays De France - Worries over aggressive Fed shift send US stocks tumbling

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Worries over aggressive Fed shift send US stocks tumbling
Worries over aggressive Fed shift send US stocks tumbling

Worries over aggressive Fed shift send US stocks tumbling

Wall Street equities tumbled on Thursday as markets bet that the latest inflation report would compel the Federal Reserve to accelerate efforts to tighten monetary policy and raise lending rates.

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Consumer prices in the world's biggest economy rose at an annual rate not seen since February 1982, with a 7.5 percent increase over the 12 months to January, according to government figures.

US stocks opened decisively lower before recovering most of the losses by midday following a mixed session in Europe and an up day for Asian equity markets.

But Wall Street headed south again after St. Louis Fed President James Bullard told Bloomberg he would be open to hiking rates outside of regularly scheduled meetings, and would like to see them up to one percent by July.

Those remarks prompted investors to shift bets towards a bigger interest rate increase in March, and helped lift the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note above two percent.

All three major indices finished sharply lower, with the S&P 500 down 1.8 percent.

"Even though the market was already anticipating a series of rate hikes this year, the hawkish commentary raised concerns that the Fed's tightening plans could be more aggressive and sooner than expected because of persistent inflation pressures," said Briefing.com.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 rose, Frankfurt's DAX edged higher, and in Paris the CAC 40 slipped.

The continent had its share of negative news, with the European Commission cutting the eurozone's economic growth forecast as energy prices and supply chain problems jack up inflation.

Elsewhere, signs of progress on the diplomatic front in eastern Europe have kept a cap on oil price gains in recent days, as has the possibility of a revived Iran nuclear deal, which could see Tehran resume worldwide petroleum exports and ease supply problems.

Among individual companies, Disney jumped 3.4 percent amid news it added far more subscribers than expected to its Disney+ streaming service in the just-finished quarter while reporting better-than-expected profits.

But Uber fell 6.1 percent as the ride-hailing company's medium-term profit forecast disappointed investors despite having reported solid fourth-quarter earnings.

- Key figures around 2100 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 1.5 percent at 35,241.59 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 1.8 percent at 4,504.08 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 2.1 percent at 14,185.6 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,672.40 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP less than 0.1 percent at 15,490.44 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,101.55 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 4,197.07 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 27,696.08 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.4 percent at 24,924.35 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,485.91 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1434 from $1.1425 late Wednesday

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3562 from $1.3535

Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.25 pence from 84.41 pence

Dollar/yen: UP at 115.99 yen from 115.52 yen

Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 0.2 percent at $91.41 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.2 percent at $89.88 per barrel