* Fed cuts economic growth to 2 percent for 2016, 2017
* Steady interest rates due partly to Britain’s EU vote - Yellen
* May consumer price index up 0.2 pct vs est 0.3 pct
* Indexes down: Dow 0.67 pct, S&P 0.71 pct, Nasdaq 0.78 pct (Updates to open)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
June 16 (Reuters) - Wall Street opened sharply lower on Thursday, a day after the Federal Reserve’s warning of a slowdown in economic growth added to concerns about Britain’s possible exit from the European Union.
The Fed said it continued to expect two hikes this year but the consensus seemed shakier with six of the 17 policymakers projecting just one hike. In March, only one official had done so.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen sounded caution that the central bank needed to see more clear signs of economic strength before lifting rates and threw some blame of her current stance on the June 23 Britain vote on its membership in the EU.
The central bank also lowered its economic growth forecast for this year and the next to 2 percent from 2.1 percent.
“What’s setting up is really a nightmare scenario. Central banks have been throwing a kitchen sink at the economy over the past seven years and now have no way to combat the weakness,” said Matthew Tuttle, chief investment officer of Tuttle Tactical Management in Connecticut.
“Also, we’ve got no way to model what is going to happen to the global economy after Brexit and that’s what’s causing the market selloff.” he said.
Global stocks have been under duress for a week as looming uncertainty about a Brexit next week pushed investors to safe-haven assets such as gold and the yen.
The Bank of Japan refrained from offering additional monetary stimulus despite anemic inflation and weak global growth, sending the yen to a 22-month high.
U.S. consumer price index rose 0.2 percent in May, compared with the 0.3 percent increase analysts had expected.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, but continued to remain below the 300,000 mark.
At 9:45 a.m. ET (1345 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 118.41 points, or 0.67 percent, at 17,521.76.
The S&P 500 was down 14.76 points, or 0.71 percent, at 2,056.74.
The Nasdaq Composite was down 37.55 points, or 0.78 percent, at 4,797.39.
Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by a 1.41 percent drop in the energy index that reflected the sixth day of lower oil prices on a stronger dollar.
However, financials weighed heavily on the S&P, with JPMorgan and Bank of America losing over 1 percent each. Goldman Sachs fell 1.5 percent and was the biggest drag on the Dow.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,274 to 499. On the Nasdaq, 1,848 issues fell and 460 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 1 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 8 new highs and 25 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)