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Us Stock Markets Drop Amid Interest Rates Hike and Looming Shutdown

The major US stock markets had all dropped more than 1% by noon on Thursday, with the S&P 500 languishing at 15-month lows.

US stock markets joined a global sell off on Thursday following news that the Federal Reserve would continue its planned interest rate hikes, a government shutdown loomed and disappointing financial results spooked investors.

The major US stock markets had all dropped more than 1% by noon on Thursday, with the S&P 500 languishing at 15-month lows.

The falls came after UK shares fell to their lowest in more than two years. The FTSE closed down 0.8%, the CAC in Paris closed down 1.8%, the Dax in Frankfurt was down 1.4% and IBEX in Madrid was down 2%. Markets in Australia and Japan also fell sharply yesterday.

Investors appear to have been spooked by the prospect of higher borrowing costs. The Fed announced its fourth interest rate hike of the year on Wednesday and Fed chair Jerome Powell indicated that while the pace of increases may slow, more were to come in 2019.

At a press conference Powell noted recent turbulence in the stock markets but said that when it came to the Fed’s decisions “no one market is the single dominant indicator”.

“All people are talking about today is the aftermath of the Fed hike. The fact that Fed just killed the notion that they are here to backstop the market,” said Michael Antonelli, managing director, institutional sales trading at Robert W. Baird in Milwaukee.

“People are just trying to fall back on technicals now that fundamentals seem a little chaotic. We’re still dealing with a stock market crash and it’s going to be with us for a while. This isn’t going to end in a quick fashion.”

The latest fall in US markets comes as Donald Trump is threatening a government shutdown unless Congress agrees to fund his border wall with Mexico. Trump has appeared to back away from a shutdown but is now indicating he will not sign off on a stop gap budget unless there is funding for the wall.

“At this moment, the president does not want to go further without border security, which includes steel slats or a wall,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. Mr. Trump “is continuing to weigh his options,” she said.

Disappointing earnings reports added to the US sell off.

Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc dropped 3.55% as the drugstore chain’s same-store sales missed estimates.

Conagra Brands tumbled 11.33%, the most on the S&P, after the packaged foods maker missed sales estimates on delayed shipments and weak demand.

Accenture fell 4.3% as its full-year revenue and profit outlook were largely below estimates.

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