Fed fear is back, sending stocks lower

So the investor angst continues, sending CNN’s Fear & Greed index back into “extreme fear” from “neutral” just two days ago.
Dow (INDU) futures are 0.9% lower, while S&P 500 (SPX) futures are down 0.8%. Nasdaq Composite (COMP) futures are down 0.6% about an hour ahead of the market open.

On Wednesday, the minutes of the Fed’s July 27-28 meeting showed that the central bank expects to soon taper its monthly purchases of $80 billion in Treasury securities and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities.

“Various participants commented that economic and financial conditions would likely warrant a reduction in coming months. Several others indicated, however, that a reduction in the pace of asset purchases was more likely to become appropriate early next year,” the minutes read.

Even though this is making investors nervous, it’s broadly in line with expectations. Plus, even tapered asset purchases would leave the Fed’s monetary policy rather loose.

Next week’s central bank symposium at Jackson Hole will be watched closely for any more signals for the eventual and inevitable taper.

The taper talk also lifted up the US dollar, which is in the green Thursday. The ICE US Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against some of its biggest rivals, traded about 0.2% higher.

Meanwhile, worries about the relentless spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant is weighing on economic recovery hopes around the world, sending commodities prices deep into the red.

US oil futures dropped to their lowest level in three months Thursday, trading down more than 3% at $63.31 per barrel.

In economic data, weekly jobless claims fell slightly more than expected to a new pandemic-era low of 348,000 with seasonal adjustments. Nearly a year and a half into the pandemic, the weekly claims for benefits still exceed their pre-Covid levels.

The number of people claiming benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program was broadly unchanged at 109,379. That brought the total number of claims without seasonal adjustments to nearly 418,000.

The Philly Fed business index for August came in below expectations and dipped below its June level.


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