US stocks plummeted on Friday as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s tough stance against inflation dashed market hopes that the central bank would soon reverse course.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 1,008.38 points, or 3.03 percent, to 32,283.40. The S&P 500 tumbled 141.46 points, or 3.37 percent, to 4,057.66. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 497.56 points, or 3.94 percent, to 12,141.71.
All the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended in red, with technology and consumer discretionary down 4.28 percent and 3.88 percent, respectively, leading the losses.
The Cboe Volatility Index, widely considered as the best fear gauge in the stock market, spiked 17.36 percent to 25.56.
The market rout came after Wall Street got an unwelcomed reminder from Powell in his latest remarks that taming inflation remains the central bank’s top priority and that rates may stay higher for longer than those calling for a quick pivot had anticipated.
In his closely-watched speech on Friday at the Fed’s Jackson Hole symposium, Powell reiterated a pledge to forcefully combat inflation that is still running near its highest level in four decades, while warning that the fight would cause “some pain” to US households and businesses.
“Restoring price stability will likely require maintaining a restrictive policy stance for some time,” said the Fed chief. “The historical record cautions strongly against prematurely loosening policy.”
“In essence, Powell is clearly stating that, right now, fighting inflation is more important than supporting growth,” LPL Financial Chief Economist Jeffrey Roach said in a note on Friday.
Last month, the US central bank delivered a 75 basis point rate hike, following a similar increase in June, and Powell left the door open for another “unusually large increase” at the Fed’s next meeting in September.
Investors have been long concerned over the implications of the aggressive rate hike campaign and there have been signs of slowing in the US economy.
US private sector firms signaled a sharp fall in business activity during August, according to a “flash” survey released by S&P Global earlier this week.
The headline flash US PMI Composite Output Index registered 45 in August, down from 47.7 in July, and indicated a second successive monthly decrease in total business activity, showed the report. A reading above 50 signifies expansion, while a reading below indicates contraction.
On other data front, the US Commerce Department reported Friday that the US personal consumption price index, a key gauge of inflation, fell 0.1 percent in July from a month earlier, marking the first decline in more than two years.
Elsewhere, the University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment registered 58.2 in August, up from July’s print of 51.1.
For the week, the Dow sank 4.2 percent, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq lost 4 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. All three benchmarks booked a second straight week of losses.