Story image

While you were sleeping: Wall Street falls as Fed gathers

18 Mar 15

Wall Street fell as US Federal Reserve policy makers began a two-day meeting that will offer fresh clues about the timing of an increase in interest rates.

At the end of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington on Wednesday, investors will eye a statement as well as a press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen. The central bank will also release its latest economic forecasts.

In afternoon trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.71 percent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell 0.29 percent. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.12 percent, bolstered by gains in Apple shares, which last traded 1.8 percent higher.

Declines in shares of DuPoint and those of Caterpillar, last down 2.8 percent and 2 percent respectively, led the Dow lower.

Economists polled by Reuters are almost evenly split on whether a rate increase will come in June or later in the year. In a Bloomberg survey completed March 12 that yielded 66 responses, 30 economists project the Fed will lift rates at their June 16-17 gathering, while another 21 said the Fed will hold until September.

"People are waiting for the Fed to provide some degree of clarity going forward," Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut, told Reuters.

A report showed US housing starts plunged 17 percent to 897,000 units at an annualised rate in February. The pace fell short of the most pessimistic forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 81 economists.

"Today's report leaves me a little concerned," Michelle Meyer, deputy head of US economics at Bank of America in New York, told Bloomberg. "While the initial reaction is to dismiss much of the drop because of the bad weather, the level of home construction continues to be depressed."

Apple shares rose, bucking the trend on Wall Street. A person with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg that Apple plans to start accepting non-Apple devices as trade-ins, amid an effort to extend market-share gains against smartphones based on Google's Android software. And The Wall Street Journal reported Apple plans to launch a new subscription based TV channel service later this year.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the day with a 0.7 percent slide from the previous close. France's CAC 40 Index weakened 0.6 percent, while Germany's DAX dropped 1.5 percent. The UK's FTSE 100 Index added 0.5 percent.

A report showed German investor confidence grew less than expected in March. The ZEW Center for European Economic Research said its index of investor and analyst expectations advanced to 54.8 this month, up from 53 in February.

Oil fell amid ongoing concern about supply, pushing US crude oil as low as US$42.63 a barrel, the lowest level in six years. A settlement at US$42.82 or lower would be 20 percent below this year's peak, meeting the common definition of a bear market, according to Bloomberg.

Wine firm uses AR to tell its story right on the bottle
A Central Otago wine company is using augmented reality (AR) and a ‘digital first’ strategy to change the way it builds its brand and engages with customers.
DigiCert conquers Google's distrust of Symantec certs
“This could have been an extremely disruptive event to online commerce," comments DigiCert CEO John Merrill. 
Protecting organisations against internal fraud
Most companies tend to take a basic approach that focuses on numbers and compliance, without much room for grey areas or negotiation.
Telesmart to deliver Cloud Calling for Microsoft Teams
The integration will allow Telesmart’s Cloud Calling for Microsoft Teams to natively enable external voice connectivity from within Teams collaborative workflow environment.
Jade Software & Ambit take chatbots to next level of AI
“Conversation Agents present a huge opportunity to increase customer and employee engagement in a cost-effective manner."
52mil users affected by Google+’s second data breach
Google+ APIs will be shut down within the next 90 days, and the consumer platform will be disabled in April 2019 instead of August 2019 as originally planned.
GirlBoss wins 2018 YES Emerging Alumni of the Year Award
The people have spoken – GirlBoss CEO and founder Alexia Hilbertidou has been crowned this year’s Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) Emerging Alumni of the Year.
SingleSource scores R&D grant to explore digital identity over blockchain
Callaghan Innovation has awarded a $318,000 R&D grant to Auckland-based firm SingleSource, a company that applies risk scoring to digital identity.