U.S. stock benchmarks traded lower Wednesday morning as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell offered an uncertain near-term outlook of the economy, with state and federal officials attempting to restart businesses from a coronavirus-induced lockdown.
“The recovery may take some time to gather momentum and the passage of time can turn liquidity problems into solvency problems,” Powell said.
What are major indexes doing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 229 points, or 1%, to 23,520, while the S&P 500 index
retreated 25 points, or 0.9%, at 2,845, led lower by a 2.6% decline in energy
and a 1.9% drop in the financials sector
The Nasdaq Composite Index
meanwhile, traded at 8,942., off 41 points, or 0.5%.
What’s driving the market?
Powell said that the economic recovery may be gradual and additional government aid to households and businesses may be “worth it” to keep lasting damage from developing, during a webcast discussion with the Peterson Institute for International Economics on Wednesday.
“The recovery may take some time to gather momentum and the passage of time can turn liquidity problems into solvency problems,” said the Fed chairman.
“Additional fiscal support could be costly but worth it if it helps avoid long-term economic damage and leaves us with a stronger recovery,” he said.
The monetary policy maker said it was ultimately up to Congress and the administration to consider this trade-off.
The Fed boss also pushed back against the idea of negative interest rates after the fed funds futures market last week, for the first time, showed some traders betting they could become reality in the U.S.
“Trump has lately toned down his criticism of Powell & Co, suggesting he is so far satisfied with the Fed’s response to the virus crisis. But the longer the U.S. economy remains in some form of a lockdown and the slower the ensuing economic recovery, the more Trump will press the Fed to do more,” said Raffi Boyadjian, senior investment analyst at XM, in a research note.
Trump on Tuesday tweeted that the U.S. should accept “the GIFT” of negative rates.
In economic reports, the April producer-price index plunged by 1.3%. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch, on average, forecast the index to fall 0.5%.
Meanwhile, analysts said there was no single catalyst for Tuesday’s turn lower. Some argued that remarks by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, in testimony in front of the Senate helped sour the mood after he warned that premature reopenings could create spikes in cases that could turn into new outbreaks.
Which companies are in focus?
- Shares of Tesla Inc.
rose 1.3% after a news report late Tuesday said the electric vehicle maker would fully reopen its battery “gigafactory” in Nevada, after Tesla reopened its auto factory in Fremont, California., on Monday in defiance of local regulations.
- Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc.
and Grubhub Inc.
have been unable to agree on a price that would see Uber acquire the food-delivery company, CNBC reported late Tuesday. Uber also announced it would sell $750 million of bonds due 2025. Shares of Uber were down 1.8%, while those for Grubhub falls 3.8%. Opinion: Uber plus Grubhub called ‘a new low in pandemic profiteering,’ and that is not the only problem
- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. shares
fell 1.8% Wednesday, after the cruise operator said it would sell $3.3 billion of debt. The company will use the proceeds to pay down another $2.35 billion loan.
How are other markets trading?
Crude-oil prices inched higher Tuesday, with West Texas Intermediate Crude for June delivery
up 3 cents, or 0.1%, to $25.81 a barrel. In precious metals, the price of an ounce of June gold
rose $13.30, or 0.8%, to $1,720.
The U.S. dollar lost ground against a basket of its six major rivals, with the ICE U.S. dollar
down 0.2%. The greenback is still up 3.4% year-to-date.
In Europe, stocks were on the slide. The Stoxx Europe 600
is down around 1.2%.