Stocks Drop Following Fed Doubts About Stimulus
By MATTHEW CRAFT
NEW YORK (AP) The stock market posted its biggest loss this year on news that Federal Reserve officials suggested the central bank scale back its effort to keep borrowing costs low.
Minutes from the Fed's January meeting seemed to catch investors by surprise when they were released at 2 p.m. EST. Several Fed policymakers worried that the bank's program of buying $85 billion of bonds each month could eventually unsettle financial markets or cause the bank to take losses. Even so, most of the Fed officials thought the economy faced fewer risks than in December.
Judging by the market's reaction, the Fed appears to be closer to ending its support for the economy than traders had expected, said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at the brokerage BTIG. "We're at a point now where we're discussing how we're going to end this, not whether it's going to end," he said.The S&P 500 index sank 18.99 points to 1,511.95, a loss off 1.2 percent. That's the biggest one-day drop since Nov. 14, 2012. By buying bonds, the Fed drives up their prices and lowers interest rates, which have stayed at record lows. That keeps costs low for mortgages and other types of loans. The major indexes drifted sideways in morning trading then turned lower in the early afternoon after Caterpillar reported weaker sales of its heavy trucks and mining equipment. Stocks fell further after traders had time to digest the Fed minutes. The S&P 500 lost 11 points in the last hour and a half of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 108 points, or less than 1 percent, to close at 13,927. Merck helped curb the Dow's fall, rising 1 percent, on news that it teamed up with a Korean drugmaker to create drugs. The Nasdaq composite fell 49 points, or 1.5 percent, to 3,164.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
24/7 market commentary from Jim Cramer and 20+ veteran Wall Street gurus. Get access to the latest trading ideas on stocks, options, and ETFs as well as a real-time forum to see the pros exchanging their investment ideas.
- Jim Cramer + 20 Wall Street pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Real-time trading forum
- Actionable trade ideas
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV