Stock Market Searches For Direction As Traders Decipher Powell Testimony

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

S&P 500 rises, but on track to snap longest monthly win streak since 1959

USA 10-year treasury bond (UST) yields have fallen for the third consecutive day to 2.864 per cent.

"It's reasonable for markets to start repricing a possibility of higher inflation and higher interest rates", Sturkenboom said.

The month also included a confirmation of a 10-percent correction for the stock market but that was followed by a rebound that made the monthly losses less steep.

Worries about potentially higher rates and inflation have reintroduced markets to volatility following their unusually calm run in 2017 and early this year.

USA stocks had been higher earlier in the day after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell testified before Congress that he does not see inflation in workers' wages "at a point of acceleration", easing trading anxieties following his comments earlier in the week many interpreted as a signal the Fed may raise rates more quickly than expected to beat down inflation.

The S&P 500 and the Dow erased their year-to-date gains to turn negative for 2018, while the Dow was hanging on to a return for the year of about 3.6%, according to FactSet data. It raised rates three times last year, and investors are debating whether it will add another three or four increases this year.

The Dow Jones industrial average sank 380 points, or 1.5 percent, to 25,029.

The S&P 500 fell 30 points, or 1.1 percent, to 2,713. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

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Booking Holdings Inc (BKNG.O), formerly known as Priceline, rose 6.8 percent after reporting upbeat quarterly profit, helped by higher hotel bookings, while off-price apparel seller TJX (TJX.N) jumped 6.9 percent after posting upbeat same-store sales. Last year, the worst weekly loss was just 1.4 percent.

Powell told the Senate Finance Committee that he does not see inflation in workers' wages "at a point of acceleration".

The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 36 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,677.

The biggest loss in the S&P 500 came from Foot Locker, which plunged after it said sales trends were weaker last quarter than analysts expected. Shares of the company, which sells dental and animal health products, dropped $7.47, or 23.7 percent, to $24.11. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 65 cents to settle at $60.99 per barrel. Brent crude, the worldwide standard, rose 54 cents to $64.37 a barrel.

Gold dropped $12.70 to $1,305.20 an ounce, silver lost 13 cents to $16.28 per ounce and copper lost 1 cent to $3.12 per pound.

European markets closed mostly lower: London's FTSE 0.1 per cent, Paris closed flat and Frankfurt was 0.3 per cent lower.

Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 1.39%.

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