Overnight Markets: Wall Street sinks after Facebook leads tech sell-off
22 March, 2018, 02:09
US stocks gained on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of an near-certain interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve, as Facebook Inc's (FB.O) shares reversed course to trade higher and energy stocks got a boost from rising oil prices.
The selloff wiped some US$50 billion off the value of social media giant Facebook, leaving investors on edge as the Federal Reserve prepares to raise U.S. rates for the first time this year.
While markets are sure about the quarter-point hike, they are less confident of what the Fed signals next: three hikes this year as previously forecast by policy makers or four.
Investors were also spooked by signs of a brewing global trade war after the Wall Street Journal reported that China was planning counter-measures against US trade tariffs.
S&P 500 technology stocks, after a fleeting advance at the opening bell, were back modestly in the red, adding to Monday's steep losses when Facebook Inc's data privacy issues hit the sector.
The Nasdaq gained 20.06 (+0.27 percent) to close at 7,364.30, while the S&P 500 finished trading at 2,716.94, up 4.02 (+0.15 percent) for the day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 7.71 points, or 0.03 percent, to 24,734.98.
In greater China, the Hang Seng Index fell 0.61%, while on the mainland, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.31%.
"The economic situation post-tax cuts also justifies a significant shift upwards in the dot plot", he added, referring to fears the Fed's de facto policy forecast chart will signal four rate rises rather than three because of the effects of USA tax reforms.
The US central bank has raised borrowing costs five times since late 2015. Markets are pricing in three rate increases this year, but some worry policymakers might squeeze in a fourth, triggering a bond and equity selloff.
The energy index.SPNY jumped 2.76 percent as crude oil prices hit a six-week high after a surprise decline in US inventories and as concern persisted over possible disruption to Middle East supply.
Concerns about rising U.S. Treasury bond issuance as the government faces a widening fiscal deficit after last year's U.S. tax cuts has seen yields rise this year.
China, according to the Wall Street Journal, was planning counter-measures with tariffs aimed at US agricultural exports from Farm Belt states.
Winners and Losers: Shares of Facebook fell 2.56 percent as the social media company battles accusations that Cambridge Analytica, a private data firm, obtained information on 50 million users without permission.
Fears of a trade war have also weighed on commodity prices, though tensions in the Middle East supported oil prices on Wednesday.
USA crude rose 1.34 percent to $64.39 per barrel and Brent was at $68.47, up 1.56 percent on the day.
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Today's fall will ease the pressure on squeezed households and substantially reduces the likelihood of another interest rate rise. Higher interest rates achieve that by providing greater scope for rates cuts, and hence monetary stimulus if needed.
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