US stocks drop again on rate hike fears; British pound tumbles

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 01 2018 06:56 AM

NEW YORK - Global equities fell Wednesday, with Wall Street dragged lower on worries about higher interest rates, while the British pound tumbled as Brexit talks with the EU hit another stumbling block.

US stocks dropped for the second straight session, as investors continued to digest Tuesday's congressional testimony from new Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that sparked talk the US central bank would accelerate the pace of interest rate hikes. 

Those worries also dogged markets on Wednesday, analysts said.

"I think it's just a concern about higher interest rates," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors.

"Unfortunately, we may have to wait for first-quarter earnings to kind of break out of the cycle we're in."

Wall Street equities were also pressured by hefty declines in petroleum-linked shares following a bearish US oil inventory report.

The Dow finished down 1.5 percent. 

Equity markets in Paris, Frankfurt and London all fell, along with Asian markets, which took their lead from Wall Street. Sentiment also took a hit with news of the third successive monthly fall in China's purchasing managers' index (PMI) survey of factory activity. 

The index reached a 19-month low in February. That news weighed heavily on London's energy and mining sectors because the Asian powerhouse economy is a top consumer of raw materials.

The dollar continued its advance against the euro and moved sharply higher against the British pound after British Prime Minister Theresa May angrily rejected the EU's draft proposal for Brexit.

The EU proposes keeping British-ruled Northern Ireland in a customs union if there is no better solution to avoid a hard border with EU-member Ireland, and its chief negotiator said the pace of trade talks needs to pick up to reach a deal this year.

"The comments reminded investors of the long road and difficult road ahead for the Brexit talks and added to the pound's heavier tone against the dollar overnight," said Omer Esiner, analyst at Commonwealth FX.

KEY FIGURES AT AROUND 2200 GMT (6 a.m. Thursday in Manila)
New York - DOW: DOWN 1.5 percent at 25,029.20 (close)

New York - S&P 500: DOWN 1.1 percent at 2,713.83 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.8 percent at 7,273.01 (close)

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.7 percent at 7,231.91 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.4 percent at 12,435.85 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.4 percent at 5,320.49 (close) 

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.6 percent at 3,438.96 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.4 percent at 22,068.24 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 1.4 percent at 30,844.72 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.0 percent at 3,259.41 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.2201 from $1.2233

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3769 from $1.3909

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.71 yen from 107.33 yen

Oil - Brent North Sea: DOWN 85 cents at $65.78 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN $1.37 at $61.64 per barrel

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