Share This Page

Markets whipsaw as investors reassess Fed fears

| Friday, May 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

NEW YORK — Investors recovered their poise after a shaky start to trading on Wall Street that sent stocks sharply lower.

U.S. markets plummeted immediately after the opening bell on Thursday after a global slump prompted partly by an unexpected slowdown in Chinese manufacturing. Concern that the Federal Reserve might ease back on its economic stimulus program sooner than expected also riled investors.

The dip gave investors who missed this year's stock market surge an opportunity to get into the market, and by midday the market had recouped most of its early loss. Stocks even climbed into positive territory by midday, then ended the day marginally lower.

“Most institutions, most hedge funds and most individuals have watched the market go up without them, so the dips are being bought,” said Jim Russell, regional investment director at U.S. Bank. “There's a very strong case for U.S. stocks.”

For the most part, the U.S. stock market has been going up steadily since the beginning of the year, with only infrequent declines. Investors' optimism has been stoked by a pickup in hiring, a recovery in the housing market and record profits at U.S. corporations.

All that has helped push the Dow up 16.7 percent this year. The Standard & Poor's 500 index is 15.7 percent than at the start of 2013.

On Thursday, however, trading was volatile.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day just 12.67 points lower, or 0.1 percent, at 15,294.50. It fell as much as 127 points during the first hour of trading.

A sell-off in global markets occurred after minutes from the latest Fed meeting, released Wednesday afternoon, indicated that several policymakers were leaning toward slowing the central bank's bond-buying program as early as June if the economy continues to recover.

The central bank is spending $85 billion a month buying bonds. That program has been keeping interest rates low in an effort to encourage borrowing, spending and investing. It's also meant to encourage investors to buy risky assets such as stocks.

Investors also were unsettled by the report that showed manufacturing in China, the world's No. 2 economy, unexpectedly shrank this month. HSBC Corp. said the preliminary version of its monthly purchasing managers index had dropped to a seven-month low. China's booming economy has been a major driver of global growth in recent years and investors worry when they see signs that it's slowing.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.