The US markets closed mostly lower on Wednesday, as a drop in oil prices fueled a selloff in energy shares, while a drop in International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) was responsible for half the session's losses in the blue-chip average. The Federal Reserve's so-called Beige Book found a larger number of firms mentioned high turnover rates and more difficulty retaining workers. Tight labor markets are broadening out wage gains but price pressures remain modest. A couple of districts said that worker shortages and increased labor costs were restraining growth in manufacturing, transportation and construction. Despite these pressures, overall inflation was modest. Selling prices rose only slightly. The Beige Book, a collection of anecdotes gathered before the central bank makes an interest rate decision, said the 12 districts were equally split between modest and moderate growth. The Fed has picked up the pace of rate hikes since last December, saying the economy is on solid footing and inflation is rising toward the central bank's 2% annual rate target. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said the Fed can afford to tighten gradually as there is no evidence of a sharp upward move in price pressure. Information from contacts collected before April 10 suggested somewhat softer readings in non-auto consumer spending and an expansion in the manufacturing sector. Home building accelerated and energy-related businesses reported improved conditions. Uncertainty about tax-and-spending policies was one factor mentioned in several districts as a restraint on activity.
Meanwhile, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said that the Federal Reserve should start shrinking its balance sheet relatively soon but do it so slowly that it doesn't disturb the central bank's plans to continue to gradually raise short-term interest rates. Rosengren suggested the Fed should initially retire a small percentage of maturing securities and then very gradually shrink the volume of the securities being reinvested. In this way, the tightening of short-term interest rates should not need to be much different than it would in the absence of shrinking the balance sheet. Rosengren does not want changes in the balance sheet to substitute for rate hikes.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 118.79 points or 0.58 percent to 20,404.49, S&P 500 ended lower by 4.02 points or 0.17 percent to 2,338.17, while the Nasdaq added 13.56 points or 0.23 percent to 5,863.03.
The Indian ADRs closed mostly in red; Tata Motors was down 1.08%, Dr Reddy's was down 1.07% and Infosys was down by 0.11%. On the other hand, HDFC Bank was up by 0.16% and Wipro was up by 0.03%.