NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global equity markets gave up earlier gains and continued a weeklong sell-off on Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced a fresh interest rate hike and said “some” further rate hikes would be necessary in the year ahead.
The decision, announced at 2 p.m. Eastern time (1900 GMT), slashed more than 700 points off of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and sent MSCI’s index of global stocks down nearly 0.9 percent for the day. The index is down nearly 13 percent since the start of December due to concerns that global economic growth is slowing.
“This is clearly a disappointment for those hoping for a dovish rate hike,” said David Joy, chief market strategist at Ameriprise Financial in Boston. “It is a more moderate rate hike but it is a rate hike and there is still a gap between where the Fed is and where the market is in terms of policy expectations for next year.”
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 351.98 points, or 1.49 percent, to 23,323.66, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 39.2 points, or 1.54 percent, to 2,506.96 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 147.08 points, or 2.17 percent, to 6,636.83.
U.S. stocks are on pace for their biggest December decline since 1931, the depths of the Great Depression.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s remarks added to the selling pressure in U.S. stocks when he said the pace of the balance sheet reduction is on a preset course and adjusting the pace of the balance sheet reduction is not an option at this time.
The U.S. central bank’s rate hike will likely dampen investor appetite for riskier assets throughout the globe, said Jorge Mariscal, emerging markets chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.
“People are worried about growth and to hear the Fed isn’t (worried) concerns the market,” he said. “In turn, that supports the U.S. dollar and that is negative news for emerging markets in general.”
The latest jolt on the growth front came from Japan, which said its export growth slowed to a crawl in November, an ominous signal for the trade-focused economy.
Logistics and delivery firm FedEx Corp, (FDX.N) considered a bellwether for the world economy, slashed 2019 forecasts, noting “ongoing deceleration” in global growth.
The company’s shares sunk over 12 percent, pushing its stock down nearly 35 percent since the start of the year.
“It’s a confluence of several important factors: the market is adjusting its outlook on growth and there is a consensus we will see a slowdown. More importantly, the market is adjusting to the idea this will translate into lower earnings growth,” said Norman Villamin, chief investment officer for private banking at Union Bancaire Privee in Zurich.
Expectations of slower growth and the equity sell-off have sent 10-year Treasury yields to their lowest since August. Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 16/32 in price to yield 2.7655 percent, from 2.823 percent late on Tuesday.
Yields in Japan and Australia also reached multi-month lows.
The dollar index .DXY fell 0.02 percent, with the euro EUR= up 0.08 percent to $1.137.