Stock market touches session low as Fed's Powell kicks off news conference

The stock market cut some of its modest losses Wednesday afternoon as the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, adopted a measured tone in explaining the central bank’s second interest-rate increase of 2018 during a news conference.. Powell said that the Fed doesn’t “want to declare victory” on inflation, which has begun to normalize toward policy makers’ 2% annual target after stubbornly holding lower for a protracted period and even as employment levels hit historic lows. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.16% was off 41 points, or 0.2%, at 25,282, the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.09% declined by 6 points, or 0.2%, at 2,781, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.20% was trading about 0.1% lower at 7,698. The policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee lifted interest rates by a quarter of percentage point to a range of 1.75% to 2% and a projection of Fed members’ expectations for interest rates in the future were seen shifting to four from three for 2018, meaning a further two hikes could be expected this year. During the news conference Powell said the economy is healthy and indicated that the Fed took “another step in gradually” normalizing monetary policy since the beginning of the 2007-09 financial crisis but didn’t want to move too quickly or too slowly in returning to a normal level of interest rates. Powell also said that going forward all Fed meetings will be accompanied by a news conference.

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