NEW YORK : Major U.S. stock indexes ended down slightly Wednesday, losing early gains tied to remarks by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that the U.S. central bank is "strongly committed" to bringing down inflation, while sharply lower oil prices weighed on energy shares.
The S&P 500 energy sector was down 4.2 per cent.
The dollar fell alongside U.S. Treasury yields on fears the U.S. economy could slip into recession after Powell, in testimony to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee, said higher rates are painful but are the means the U.S. central bank has to slow inflation.
"Like all Fed commentary, there are positives and negatives, but the overall message is the Fed is not backing away from rate hikes," said Tim Ghriskey, senior portfolio strategist at Ingalls & Snyder in New York.
The Fed recently raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point - its biggest hike since 1994.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 47.12 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 30,483.13, the S&P 500 lost 4.9 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 3,759.89 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 16.22 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 11,053.08.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.70 per cent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.49 per cent.
Investors are continuing to assess how worried they need to be about central banks potentially pushing the world economy into recession as they attempt to curb inflation with interest rate increases.
Graphic: Inflation palpitations- https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/mopanrqrbva/Pastedper cent20imageper cent201655895473770.png
Minutes from the Bank of Japan's April policy meeting released Wednesday showed the central bank's concerns over the impact the plummeting currency could have on the country's business environment.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.27 per cent versus the greenback at 136.24 per dollar.
In Treasuries, benchmark 10-year notes rose in price to yield 3.156 per cent, from 3.305 per cent late on Tuesday.
U.S. crude fell $3.33 to settle at $106.19 a barrel while Brent dropped $2.91 to settle at $111.74.
U.S. President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass a three-month suspension of the federal gasoline tax to help combat record pump prices.
Spot gold added 0.3 per cent to $1,838.03 an ounce.