U.S. markets end higher led by oil cos; Facebook extends losses

22 March, 2018, 02:09 | Author: Natasha Holloway
  • Justin Sullivan  Getty Images

US stocks ended slightly lower on Wednesday, with major indexes giving up gains in choppy trade after the Federal Reserve raised USA interest rates, while a strong gain in the energy space helped limit losses.

The Federal Reserve is expected to raise USA rates for the first time this year after a two-day policy meeting, but investors are on edge over the kind of monetary policy regime new Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will pursue.

Wall Street moved higher as did oil prices, while US Treasuries declined, as the US Federal Reserve began its first two-day policy meeting chaired by Jerome Powell.

Markets were also spooked by signs of a brewing global trade war - a Wall Street Journal report saying China was planning counter-measures against United States trade tariffs.

US stocks pulled back on Monday as a decline in Facebook pressured the technology sector. The S&P 500 index rose 7 points, or 0.3% to 2,720, while the Nasdaq Composite advanced 11 points, or 0.2% to 7,357.

Those expectations had sent the dollar to nearly three-week highs on Tuesday, but it eased back a quarter percent against a basket of currencies on Wednesday, having lost almost half a percent this month.

"We expect interest rates to inch higher, but not at an accelerated pace and that's why you've got some strength here today", said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 116.36 (+0.47 percent) to finish the session at 24,727.27.

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The yield on 10-year United States government bonds reached 2.885% and short-term 2-year yield rose to 2.341%.

The world's financial leaders were seeking to clearly endorse free trade and renounce protectionism amid concern that USA tariffs on steel and aluminum and looming actions against China could trigger a trade war that would hurt global growth.

"So far, we have seen low-level (trade) skirmishes, which are not material enough to affect the world economy".

Concerns about rising U.S. Treasury bond issuance as the government faces a widening fiscal deficit after last year's U.S. tax cuts has seen yields rise this year.

Facebook shares have lost about 9 percent in just two days, and hurt shares of other social media companies such as Twitter and Snap Inc as the issue raised broader questions about consumer privacy and whether tougher regulation is on the horizon.

Crude oil prices jumped more than 2 percent to $63 per barrel.

Spot gold rose 1.8 percent at $1,334.75 per ounce, after hitting $1,335.47, its highest since March 7. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained $1.63, or 2.6 percent, to settle at $65.17, their highest since February 2.

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