US stocks close lower amid Fed rate hike

New York: US stocks fell after the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate for the fourth time this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday plunged 351.98 points, or 1.49 percent, to 23,323.66. The S&P 500 decreased 39.2 points, or 1.54 percent, to 2,506.96, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 147.08 points, or 2.17 percent, to 6,636.83.

All but one of the 30 components of the Dow closed lower. All the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors closed lower, with consumer discretionary and technology down 2.23 percent and 1.94 percent, respectively, leading the laggards.

Of the S&P 500 member stocks, 60 percent ended up in the bear market territory on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve announced its decision to raise short-term interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point.

“In view of realized and expected labour market conditions and inflation, the (Federal Open Market) Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 percent,” the Fed said in a statement after concluding a two-day policy meeting.

It marked the Fed’s fourth rate hike this year and the ninth such move since late 2015, as the central bank moves forward on the path of monetary policy normalization.

Meanwhile, during a press conference, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell indicated the Fed was likely to raise rates twice in 2019.

Investors fretted over the interest rate spike, fearing that rising borrowing costs could slow down the economy, experts noted.