Stocks finished lower Wednesday. The Dow erased a 380 point gain to ultimately close 351 points lower at 23,323. The S&P 500 notched its seventh-consecutive decline, falling 39 points to 2,506. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 147 points to 6,636.
The major averages fell to their lowest level of the year following the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision. As expected, the central bank raised its benchmark interest rate for the fourth time this year. The Fed also projected two rate hikes in 2019, down from November’s median estimate of three increases. However, the statement noted expectations for “some further gradual increases”, which sparked investor concern that the path of tightening may be too aggressive. On the data front, existing home sales rose for the second consecutive month, rising 1.9% in November.
All 11 S&P 500 sectors ended in negative territory. Consumer Discretionary shares led the losses with Amazon falling 3.7% to $1495.08. The Communications sector also lagged, with Facebook retreating 7.3% to $133.24 following a report the company mishandled user data. In other corporate news, FedEx lost 12.2% to $162.51 after providing disappointing forward guidance.
Breadth was negative on issues by 9:2 on the NYSE and 3:1 on the Nasdaq. Composite NYSE volume was more than 5.1 billion shares.
Treasuries rallied, with the curve flattening following the Fed decision. The benchmark 10-year note yield fell six basis points to 2.76%, the lowest level since May. The 30-year Treasury bond yield dropped below 3% while the two-year yield moved slightly higher to 2.65%. In commodities, WTI crude added 2.1% to $47.20/barrel. COMEX gold gained 0.2% to $1,252.10/ounce despite a stronger dollar.