© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street ended lower on Friday as a barrage of mixed economic data appeared to affirm another Federal Reserve interest rate hike, dampening investor enthusiasm after a series of big U.S. bank earnings launched first-quarter reporting season.

All three major U.S. stock indexes ended in the red, but well off session lows. On the heels of Thursday’s robust rally, all three major U.S. stock indexes notched weekly gains.

“Today we’re taking bit of a breather,” said Sal Bruno, chief investment officer at IndexIQ in New York. “After yesterday’s sharp move up, the market might have gotten a little ahead of itself.”

Citigroup Inc (NYSE:), JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:) & Co beat earnings expectations, benefiting from rising interest rates and easing fears of stress in the banking system.

“As expected, the bigger banks were probably not harmed that much by the regional banking turmoil, and possibly even beneficiaries of it,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird in Louisville, Kentucky. “We saw mostly strong and healthy balance sheets, and it’s pretty clear (the regional banking) crisis isn’t systemic.”

The banking sector jumped 3.5% and JPMorgan Chase surged 7.6%, its biggest one-day percentage gain since Nov. 9, 2020.

Citigroup advanced 4.8% while Wells Fargo edged 0.1% lower.

But a slew of mixed economic data including retail sales, industrial production and consumer sentiment cemented expectations that the Fed will hike rates another 25 basis points at next month’s policy meeting.

“Industrial production and capacity utilization came in stronger than expected,” Bruno added. “Both point to an economy that still has some vibrancy, which gives Fed cover to continue its rate hike policy in May possibly into June.”

Consensus grows for Fed rate hike in May    https://www.reuters.com/graphics/USA-RATES/FEDWATCH/zdpxdayyrpx/chart.png

Those expectations were underscored by Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, who said another 25 basis point hike could allow the Fed to end its tightening cycle, even as Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee called for the central bank to be prudent.

At last glance, financial markets have priced in a 74% likelihood of that happening, according to CME’s FedWatch tool.

The fell 143.22 points, or 0.42%, to 33,886.47; the S&P 500 lost 8.58 points, or 0.21%, at 4,137.64; and the dropped 42.81 points, or 0.35%, to 12,123.47.

Among the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, seven ended the session lower, with real estate falling most. Financials enjoyed the biggest percentage jump, advancing 1.1%.

First-quarter earnings season hits full stride next week, with results expected from several high profile companies including Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:), Morgan Stanley (NYSE:), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:), Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:) and a long list of regional banks and industrials.

Analysts have lowered expectations, forecasting aggregate S&P 500 earnings having fallen by 4.8% from a year ago, a reversal of the 1.4% year-on-year gain seen at the beginning of the quarter, according to Refinitiv.

BlackRock Inc (NYSE:) rose 3.1% after the world’s largest asset manager beat quarterly profit expectations.

Boeing (NYSE:) Co slid 5.6% after the planemaker halted deliveries of some 737 MAXs due to a supplier quality problem attributed to Spirit AeroSystems (NYSE:), whose shares fell 20.7%.

Shares of Lucid Group Inc dropped 6.3% following the luxury electric automaker’s disappointing first-quarter production and delivery numbers.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 2.01-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.07-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 47 new highs and 205 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 9.98 billion shares, compared with the 11.31 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

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