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U.S. stocks end mixed as Federal Reserve combats inflation

U.S. stocks end mixed as Federal Reserve combats inflation
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testifies before a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., on March 3. File Photo by Tom Williams/UPI | License Photo

April 8 (UPI) -- Stocks in the United States ended trading mixed Friday as investors weighed recent comments from Federal Reserve officials on combatting inflation.

Losses in the technology sector offset major gains in the energy sector as the prices for commodities such as oil and gold grew.

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The S&P 500 closed down 0.27%, ending its streak of three weeks of gains as the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite dropped 186.3 points, about 1.34%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which closed up 0.4%, has made gains for four straight weeks.

St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard told Fox Business on Thursday that officials will have to "move forthrightly" in more aggressively increasing interest rates to combat inflation.

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"I would like the committee to get to 3-3.25% on the policy rate in the second half of this year," Bullard said.

The Federal Reserve released minutes from its March 15-16 board meeting on Wednesday which show that policymakers would have wanted to set a larger interest rate last month but opted for a more modest increase.

"Many participants noted that one or more 50 basis point increases in the target range could be appropriate at future meetings, particularly if inflation pressures remained elevated or intensified," the minutes read.

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Officials also "generally agreed" the central bank should shrink its balance sheet by $95 billion per month and are expected to approve the reduction in May.

Kevin Nicholson, chief investment officer of global fixed income at RiverFront Investment Group, told Yahoo Finance Live on Thursday that, despite a volatile week and the Federal Reserve comments, experts expect the earnings season "to be better than expected."

"The market actually had to digest a lot of information - a lot of hawkish information from the Fed over the last couple of days. We had been in a sell-off mode," Nicholson said.

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