US stocks ended slightly lower on Thursday as investors weighed the outlook for economic growth and after the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis said interest-rate increases should come sooner rather than later.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 21 points or 0.13%, to end at 16,846. The S&P 500 slipped two points or 0.12%, to 1,957. The Nasdaq Composite dipped one point to 4,379.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, in an interview with Fox Business Network, reiterated his belief that raising rates by the end of the first quarter of 2015 would be appropriate.
He said the US jobless rate will fall below 6% and inflation looks likely to rise back to 2% later this year, putting the economy closer to normal than most realise.
The Fed had hinted after its meeting this month about a slightly faster pace of interest-rate increases starting next year, but suggested rates in the long run would be lower than it had indicated previously.
US-listed shares of Barclays (BCS.N) dropped 7.4% after New York State's attorney general filed a securities fraud lawsuit against Barclays (BARC.L), accusing the UK bank of giving an unfair edge in the US to high-frequency trading clients.
The Barclays fallout hit other European banks. US-listed shares of UBS AG (UBS.N) slid 2.4%. Credit Suisse (CS.N) fell 3.6%.
After the bell, shares of sportswear maker Nike Inc (NKE.N) rose 3% after reporting a higher quarterly profit. Shares of Manitowoc (MTW.N) jumped 11.4% in after-hours trading after sources said Relational Investors has amassed a stake in the company with the intent of a breakup.
During the regular session, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc (BBBY.O) slid 7.2% a day after the retailer gave a second-quarter earnings outlook that was below expectations.
The stock of the wearable sports camera maker GoPro (GPRO.O) surged 30.6% to $31.34 in the first day of trading.
In Asia, shares oscillated between gains and losses on Friday after Bullard’s comments the US may raise interest rates by March.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed at 145 as of 10:57 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index slipped 0.2% after a report showed inflation accelerated at the fastest pace in 32 years.
South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.1% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index was little changed. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.3%. Taiwan’s Taiex index added 0.1%, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index slid 0.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was little changed, while the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.5%.