U.S. stocks midday fell sharply midday Wednesday, with the day’s losses prompted at least partly by a number of global central banks adopting easy-money policies in the face of an intensifying trade conflict between Beijing and Washington.
How did benchmarks perform?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down nearly 362 points, or 1.4%, to 25,667, the S&P 500 index
lost 33 points, or 1.2%, at 2,848. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index
shed 0.8% to 7,770, a 63-point drop, after briefly turning positive in late-morning action.
On Tuesday, the Dow rose 311.78 points, or 1.2%, to end at 26,029.52, while the S&P 500 index climbed 37.03 points, or 1.3%, to close at 2.881.77, while the Nasdaq Composite Index
surged 107.23 points, or 1.4%, to finish at 7,833.27.
What’s driving the market?
U.S. equity markets fell sharply at the start of trade on Wednesday, before recovering some ground, with stocks giving up Tuesday’s gains as U.S. Treasury and European government bonds plumbed fresh yield lows. The 10-year Treasury
fell below 1.70%, falling to an intraday nadir at 1.60%, around the lowest since late 2016, while comparable German bonds
hit a record low at negative 0.59%.
“A sharp decline in yields as the 10-year note falls under 1.65%. This is raising the ‘Fear Factor’ over the impact of the trade war on the economy,” Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities told MarketWatch via email.
Adding to market jitters is growing fears of a recession in the U.S. against a weaken economic backdrop throughout the globe.
Central banks in India and New Zealand (as well as the Thailand) lowered their domestic interest rates to levels that are lower than had been expected, highlighting anxieties centered on the health of the world-wide economy.
India’s central bank cut its key interest rate for the fourth consecutive time, reducing the repo rate by 0.35% to 5.40% to shore up the economy, while New Zealand’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to an all-time low of 1% on Wednesday.
“Central banks in New Zealand, Thailand, and India all cut rates overnight and that highlights how concerned central bankers are about the state of the global economy,” wrote David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK, in a Wednesday note.
In the U.S., Chicago Fed President Charles Evans on Wednesday said he wants to adjust monetary policy until it is giving the economy a slight boost. This means another quarter-point rate cut this year, he said, in a breakfast conversation with reporters, noting also that “more accommodation could be needed”.
Meanwhile, for a second day in a row, the People’s Bank of China set the official midpoint reference for yuan at 6.9996 in Asian hours, but the level approaches the key level of 7, widely viewed as a line in the sand for the currency. The PBOC fixes the currency daily and allows it to move up to 2 percentage points on either side of its midpoint.
A breach of that level on Monday, interpreted by some as an intentional weakening of its currency, helped to ignite a global stock market selloff and slump in bond yields, but markets stabilized on Tuesday, despite the prospect of an uncertain timeline for a Sino-American trade resolution.
Losses for stocks Wednesday accelerated after President Donald Trump tweeted that the U.S’s “problem is not China – We are stronger than ever, money is pouring into the U.S. while China is losing companies by the thousands to other countries, and their currency is under siege – Our problem is a Federal Reserve that is too….. proud to admit their mistake of acting too fast and tightening too much (and that I was right!).
The president said, the central bank “must cut rates bigger and faster, and stop their ridiculous quantitative tightening NOW,” he tweeted:
Which stocks are in focus?
The Walt Disney Co.
on Tuesday said beginning Nov. 12, when the entertainment giant’s ambitious streaming service makes its debut, U.S. consumers will be able to subscribe to a streaming bundle of Disney+, ESPN+ and advertising-supported Hulu for $12.99 a month. Disney shares were down 5.9% after badly missing estimates for earnings.
Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc.
reduced its full-year comparable stores outlook to “approximately flat.” Lumber Liquidators shares were falling 12%.
Shares of CVS Health Corp.
rose 5.7% Wednesday after the drugstore chain reported earnings that topped Wall Street expectations.
Office Depot Inc.’s stock
was trading little changed after the business supply retailer reported second-quarter earnings that beat expectations.
What other assets are in focus?
Gold for December delivery
aimed for a fourth straight gain, breaching a psychological level above $1,500 per ounce.
Oil futures sank. U.S. oil prices
fell 2.9% at $52.08 a barrel, after gaining 1.9% on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday.
In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index
fell 0.3%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index
ended virtually unchanged, adding less than 0.1%, while the CS1 300 index
The pan-European Stoxx 600
meanwhile, headed 0.4% lower Wednesday, giving up a sharply early gain.