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Stocks End Mixed as Fed's Powell Reassures on Inflation, Rates

02/23/2021 | 05:33pm
(MT Newswires) -- US stocks closed mixed, with small gains in the Dow and the S&P 500, after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress that the economy is a "long way from our employment and inflation goals."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended nearly unchanged at 31,537.35 points, the S&P 500 was up 0.1% to 3,881.37 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped by 0.5% to 13,465.20, with all indexes well off session lows. Technology and consumer discretionary stocks were among the worst performers while energy led the way.

Powell said Tuesday in his semiannual Monetary Policy Report before the Senate's Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee that it will likely be appropriate to keep the target range on the federal funds rate low until the labor market moves closer to the Federal Open Market Committee's estimate of maximum employment, and until inflation is back at the 2% goal level and on track to "moderately exceed" that for some time.

Inflation is no near-term threat and when it does rise the Fed will want to see it above the target for 'some time' before raising rates, Powell told senators.

In company news, Extra Space Storage (EXR) reported fourth-quarter results that beat expectations and issued upbeat earnings guidance while raising its quarterly dividend. Shares jumped 4.8%.

Leidos (LDOS) was the worst performer in the S&P 500, down 10% after reporting fiscal second-quarter revenue that lagged the market consensus even as but earnings beat estimates. Leidos also said it is acquiring Gibbs & Cox, an engineering and design firm, for $380 million in cash.

Home Depot (HD) shares fell 3%, the most on the Dow, even as the company reported higher sales and earnings than the market had anticipated.

West Texas Intermediate futures rose 0.4% to $61.92. In the precious metals markets, gold was down 0.2% to $1,804.60 an ounce, with silver down 1.1% to $27.78 an ounce.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund rose 0.8% to $41.62 and the United States Natural Gas Fund was down 2.2% to $10.69. Among precious metals funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 2.3% to $33.44 and SPDR Gold Shares were down 0.2% to $169.12. The iShares Silver Trust was down 2.1% to $25.71.

© MT Newswires 2021
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