Hawkish Powell sends US indices lower despite resurgent airline shares

·3-min read
Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell has signaled the US central bank will have to move more aggressively to counter record US inflation (AFP/Samuel Corum) (Samuel Corum)

US stocks tumbled while the dollar rallied Thursday following hawkish comments from the head of the Federal Reserve that exacerbated worries over higher interest rates, offsetting a lift from a resurgent airline industry.

With bourses in Paris and Frankfurt winning solid gains, Wall Street equities had opened higher following good results from Tesla and upbeat comments from leading airlines.

But US stock markets reversed course at mid-session, and ended decisively lower as the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note rose above 2.9 percent.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who has signaled the US central bank will have to move more aggressively to counter record US inflation, explicitly said a half-point interest rate increase is "on the table" for next month's policy meeting.

The comments followed remarks from a top European Central Bank that opened the door to faster interest rate hikes.

"Today, you can basically say that for stocks and bonds, it's all about the ECB and the Fed," said LBBW's Karl Haeling.

Major US indices all finished down more than one percent, while the dollar pushed higher against the euro and other currencies.

But forecast by United Airlines and American Airlines for surging travel demand as the pandemic impact fades helped boost airline shares in Europe and the United States.

Shares in European airlines were flying high. British Airways parent IAG soared 6.3 percent and shares in low-cost rival EasyJet jumped 4.9 percent in afternoon trading in London.

"The aviation sector is flying higher on expectations of a bumper quarter, after United Airlines posted record guidance for the second quarter," City Index senior markets analyst Fiona Cincotta told AFP.

The aviation sector was ravaged by the pandemic that erupted in early 2020. Surging oil prices amid the fallout from the Russian war have also acted as a headwind.

United Airlines forecast "the strongest second-quarter revenue guidance in company history" despite logging another Covid-induced loss for the first quarter.

American Airlines, meanwhile, reported another quarterly loss on Thursday, but said a recent sharp improvement in bookings should enable it to achieve profitability in the second quarter.

Shares of United soared 9.3 percent, while American gained 3.8 percent.

Earlier, stock markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai fell sharply on heightened anxiety over China's renewed Covid lockdowns and curbs on tech companies.

Tokyo, however, rallied on optimism over a falling yen, which boosts exporters.

- Key figures around 2125 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 1.1 percent at 34,792.76 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 1.5 percent at 4,393.66 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 2.1 percent at 13,174.65 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 1.0 percent at 14,502.41 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 1.4 percent at 6,715.10 (close)

London - FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,627.95 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,781.13

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.2 percent at 27,553.06 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.3 percent at 20,682.22 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 2.3 percent at 3,079.81 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0840 from $1.0853 late on Wednesday

Dollar/yen: UP at 128.35 yen from 127.86 yen

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3029 from $1.3068

Euro/pound: UP at 83.14 pence from 83.05 pence

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.4 percent at $108.33 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.6 percent at $103.79 per barrel

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