A more tempered view on growth and inflation from the Federal Reserve pushed Treasury yields and the dollar lower as a dovish tone emanated from Janet Yellen’s final scheduled press conference.
The S&P 500 Index ended lower after a swoon in the final 15 minutes of trading and Asia equities are indicating a mixed start, with a stronger yen likely to weigh on Japanese shares.
The Fed increased interest rates and raised its outlook for economic growth in 2018 without lifting its forecast for the number of hikes next year. Inflation will remain below its 2 percent goal in the near term, but will “stabilize” around the target in the medium term, the central bank said.
The dollar and Treasury yields were already falling after the so-called core gauge of U.S. inflation, which excludes food and energy costs, unexpectedly slowed. Yellen said elevated stock prices doesn’t mean equities are overvalued.
“Markets are generally interpreting the meeting as a dovish hike,” said Marvin Loh, senior global market strategist at Bank of New York Mellon Corp. in Boston. “The improved view in 2018 may be driven by tax reform, which will not have a long-lasting impact.”
The Fed raised its benchmark rate by a quarter percentage point to a target range of 1.25 percent to 1.5 percent and lifted its estimate for economic growth next year to 2.5 percent from 2.1 percent but doesn’t see inflation accelerating.
Meanwhile, crude reversed direction and slid below $57 a barrel after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that production is rising to keep up with falling inventories. Gold rose with most industrial metals.