U.S. stocks opened lower Friday, as investors continue to weigh what stronger-than-expected inflation data from earlier this week will mean for the Federal Reserve’s future path of interest rate hikes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.4% soon after the opening bell, while the S&P 500 fell 0.5% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.7%, according to FactSet data, at last check. Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester said Thursday that she had seen a “compelling” case for a half-point interest rate hike at the Fed’s last policy meeting that concluded Feb. 1, when the Fed lifted its benchmark rate by a quarter of a percentage point. The central bank has been trying to slow the economy and bring down inflation by raising rates. A report on the leading index of economic data from the Conference Board is scheduled to be released at 10 a.m. Eastern time on Friday.


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