Stocks were broadly lower Friday after a Federal Reserve official said that the nation's central bank might need to raise interest rates as early as next year, sooner than the Fed's latest estimate of possible rate increases in 2023.
The S&P 500 index fell 0.9% as of 9:50 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.3%, dragged down by technology companies and banks, while the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.6%.
The S&P 500 is on pace to end the week down 1.6% while the Dow is down more than 3%. The Nasdaq is still barely positive for the week.
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said on business news channel CNBC that he expects the first interest rate increase the Fed could make could come as soon as 2022. That's faster than what the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday, when a forecast by policymakers put the consensus estimate of interest rate hikes in 2023.
The quickly recovering economy after the pandemic has caused a degree of inflation, with prices for basic materials like lumber, copper and oil rising as well as other goods like airline tickets and used cars. The general consensus is that the inflation will be temporary and is a result of an economy recovering from near depression levels, but part of the Fed's mission is to keep prices under control.
The first action the Fed is likely to take would be a slowdown in its $120 billion of monthly bond purchases, which are helping to keep mortgages cheap, but the Fed's chair said such a tapering is still likely "a ways away." Higher interest rates would cause high-priced stocks like technology companies to be less attractive to investors, and would likely push a greater number of investors into securities like bonds for better returns, which would come at the expense of the stock market.
Bond yields were slightly higher after Bullard's comments. The yield on the 2-year Treasury note rose to 0.25% from 0.23% a day earlier.