Wall Street falls on Powell's grim outlook
By Sinéad Carew New York (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell sharply for the second day on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned of extended economic weakness due to the coronavirus pandemic but did not mention new central bank support. The U.S
By Sinéad Carew
New York (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell sharply for the second day on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned of extended economic weakness due to the coronavirus pandemic but did not mention new central bank support.
The U.S. economy will take some time to get back to where it was, Powell said in a webcast, as he pledged to use the U.S. central bank's power as needed and called for more fiscal stimulus.
While many market participants said they were relieved by Powell's continued indication that the Fed would not push interest rates below zero, some were concerned that his call for fiscal stimulus would not be answered.
"The market seems to be looking to the Fed for support and the Fed said look somewhere else," said Jeff Kleintop, chief global investment strategist at Charles Schwab, adding that divisions among Republicans and Democrats had dimmed prospects for additional fiscal support from Congress.
Investors were "disappointed he didn't bring up anything new the Fed was considering," said the strategist.
Kleintop said Powell's tone was more pessimistic than in the recent past. "The market took away that maybe there's more bad news out there than they'd been pricing in," he said.
Powell's comments followed a sharp selloff in equities on Tuesday after a warning from leading U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci that the virus was not yet under control. Fauci's comments prompted concerns about how the economy would emerge from weeks of virus-related lockdowns.
Another negative factor was a decision by an independent board overseeing billions in federal retirement dollars that it would indefinitely delay plans to invest in some Chinese companies.
"It adds to the tension ahead of an announcement Trump said could come this week on the Phase One (U.S.-China) trade deal," said Schwab's Kleintop.
At 2:13PM ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 482.86 points, or 2.03%, to 23,281.92, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 53.7 points, or 1.87%, to 2,816.42 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 175.93 points, or 1.95%, to 8,826.62.
Investor bets on a swift recovery had helped the three main U.S. stock indexes climb about 30% from their March lows.
But as officials around the world and in parts of the United States began easing lockdown rules with a view to restarting local economies fears of a second wave of COVID-19 infections have diminished those hopes.
Energy stocks <.SPNY> dropped more than 4% on Wednesday, showing the steepest percentage loss among the 11 major S&P sectors. Interest rate-sensitive bank shares <.SPXBK> shed 4.5%, tracking a fall in U.S. Treasury yields.
Wall Street's fear gauge <.VIX> rose for the second day and hit its highest point since May 4.
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Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 7.44-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 5.06-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 2 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 31 new highs and 90 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Medha Singh and Ambar Warrick in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Shounak Dasgupta and Cynthia Osterman)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.