by Sinéad Carew and Shristi Achar A

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(Reuters) – The New York Stock Exchange ended in disarray on Wednesday as investors struggled to digest a rehearing of Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Jerome Powell before the U.S. Congress and economic data released ahead of time. reports on the labor market and inflation.

The Dow Jones index fell 0.18%, or 58.06 points, to 32,798.40 points.

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The broader S&P-500 gained 5.64 points, or 0.14%, to 3,992.01 points.

The Nasdaq Composite advanced for its part by 45.67 points (0.40%) to 11,576.00 points.

By declaring before a Senate committee on Tuesday that the Fed may have to raise interest rates more than expected to fight inflation, Jerome Powell shook the markets and weighed down the main Wall Street indices, all in the red at the fence.

Hearing Wednesday by the House of Representatives, the boss of the American central bank however indicated that no decision had been taken for the time being on an increase in interest rates by 50 basis points this month, as A large number of traders and the financial markets are now anticipating it, against an increase of 25 basis points initially expected.

Jerome Powell said the Fed would study economic data to decide how big to hike rates at its March 21-22 monetary policy meeting.

A survey released today shows that the private sector in the United States created more jobs than expected in February, illustrating the strength of the labor market and fueling expectations around the monthly report of the United States Department of Labor, which will be published on Friday.

There was no obvious path to follow in the wake of Wednesday’s data, commented Robert Phipps, director of Per Stirling Capital Management in Austin, Texas.

“Powell was pretty neutral, reinforcing the idea that he’s data dependent,” he said. The situation prompted investors to “not take significant risks” pending further data at the end of the week, he added.

Seven of the main sectors of the S&P-500 ended the session in the green, in particular real estate which recorded an increase of 1.3%. Energy suffered the biggest drop, down 1%.

On the stock side, Tesla fell 3% after the American auto safety regulator announced the opening of a preliminary investigation into 120,000 Model Ys from 2023 for a possible power steering defect.

Occidental Petroleum rose 2% after Berkshire Hathaway strengthened its position in the oil company to around 22.2%.

( Jean Terzian)

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