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United States stock indexes waver as markets wait on Fed chairman

United States stock indexes waver as markets wait on Fed chairman

Australian stocks fell 0.7 percent, South Korea's KOSPI shed 1.2 percent and Japan's Nikkei dropped 1.55 percent.

The Dow was down 470 points, or 1.9 percent, at 24,554. It had only four such days past year.

Eight of the 12 TSX subgroups remained negative, with gold still down 0.6%, information technology and telecoms each sliding 0.4%.

The S&P 500 Index sank to session lows and fell below its 100-day moving average, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 500 points after the US president added to earlier confusion on the fate of proposed tariffs by announcing the levies in a meeting with industry executives.

Trump made the announcement during a meeting at the White House with executives from both the steel and aluminum industries, which he promised to help rebuild by shielding them from unfair trade practices. Apple, the most valuable US company, got 63 percent of its sales from outside the United States in its latest fiscal year.

"People are looking to buy gold on dips, so I think it will be supported down at US$1,300", a Hong Kong-based trader said. He vowed that "the European Union will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests".

U.S. Steel hiked as much as 8.4%, and AK Steel rose as much as 12%, before trading up about 2% each.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index tumbled 1.3 percent to 2,677.67, the third straight day it has lost at least 1 percent.

Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar fell 2 percent and aerospace giant Boeing gave back 4 percent.

The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 37 points, or 0.5%, to 7,235. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.




The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 2.86% at 10.42am in NY, compared to Tuesday's 2.92% peak.

The dollar index climbed to 90.868, with Powell's optimism on the economy in public testimony to Congress suggesting the USA central bank is going to raise interest rates one more time than the three hikes markets had expected. "Nothing in that suggests to me that wage inflation is at a point of acceleration", Powell told the Senate panel on Thursday. He also acknowledged, in response to lawmakers' questions, that the labor market may have room to strengthen further, given uncertainty about the level of "full employment", a concept generally associated with faster rising wages and prices.

Powell's highly optimistic outlook "has come about after the Fed called for three 2018 rate hikes in December", said James Chen on Forex.com. Meanwhile, Fed's preferred PCE inflation index advanced 0.4% and core was up 0.3% in January.

SHARP BITE: Patterson Companies fell to the biggest loss in the S&P 500 after it reported weaker earnings for the latest quarter than analysts expected and said that its chief financial officer was leaving. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.18 to $60.56 per barrel.

Brent crude, the global benchmark, was down 0.98 percent at $64.10, while US crude was down 0.8 percent at $61.14.

The Fed's preferred price gauge - tied to consumption - rose 0.4 percent in January from the previous month and was up 1.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the Commerce Department.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was up 0.1 per cent at 90.716. The euro rose to $1.2275 from $1.2263.

France's CAC 40 fell 1.1 percent and Germany's DAX was down 2 percent.

The U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index decreased 0.8 percent. The USD/CNY exchanged hands at 6.3408, 0.17 percent higher.

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