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U.S. stocks hold near 14-month low on a volatile day

21 December, 2018, 04:04 | Author: Melinda Barton
  • Dow dumps 400 points, on track for lowest close since April

TAKING OFF: Boeing surged to one of the market's biggest gains after it raised its dividend 20 percent and increased its stock buyback program by $2 billion to $20 billion. Afterhours trading in the largest exchange-traded fund that tracks the S&P 500 fell 0.5 percent. Shares were higher in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Wall Street's major indexes all slid more than 2 percent on Monday, with the benchmark S&P 500 closing at its lowest in 14 months, on concerns about slowing economic growth ahead of a highly anticipated decision from the Federal Reserve this week on the course of US interest-rate hikes. Oil stocks were particularly hard hit as weak global economic growth drove crude prices down another 2%.

The S&P 500 index inched up 0.22 points to 2,546.16.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 82.66 points, or 0.35 percent, to 23,675.64 on Tuesday.

The Russell 2000 is down 158.34 points, or 10.3 percent. The Fed meets Wednesday and is widely expected to raise rates again. The Dow and S&P are down for the year, and the Nasdaq is hanging in positive territory by less than a percent. The central bank has forecast three more hikes in 2019, but investors doubt it would go as planned. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the USA and China are planning to hold meetings next month to seek a trade truce.

"The market's overriding fear is that the Fed will press ahead with plans to raise interest rates, which could be too much for the United States economy to handle", Jasper Lawler of London Capital Group said in an email on Tuesday. "What is sure from my chair is the Fed will deliver a fourth rate hike for the year on cue, but what is entirely up in the air is which key cardinal point the meeting will shift too", he added.

In other energy trading, wholesale gasoline shed 1.7 percent to $1.41 a gallon and heating oil slid 1 percent to $1.83 a gallon. The country's exports broadly slowed, partly due to weakening demand from China.

Oil prices were rocked Monday, with benchmark West Texas Intermediate down almost 4 percent, resting below the critical $50 per barrel threshold. Still, investors remain cautious a deal will be done by the March 1 deadline even as China's openness to cutting tariffs on US cars and buying soybeans is feeding optimism that the dispute will be resolved.

US stock markets again swept downward Monday as the volatility of recent weeks resumed ahead of the holidays. Microsoft's stocks declined by 3.6 percent. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, gave up $1.15 to $58.46 per barrel. It lost $3.35 to $56.26 a barrel in London.

The dollar slipped to 112.75 yen from 113.29 yen.



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