US stock markets ended mostly lower on Wednesday following the release of a policy statement from the US Federal Reserve, with futures pointing towards a stock sell-off on Thursday.
The Fed announced that US interest rates would remain between 0% and 0.25% and indicated that they would likely remain that way until 2023 at the earliest. No additional stimulus plans were announced, though Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell pledged that the Fed “will not lose sight of the millions of Americans that remain out of work.”
Investors who had anticipated new stimulus measures were left disappointed by the statement. US stocks fell following Powell’s press conference, with only the Dow closing in the green. Thursday morning saw US futures skewing sharply negative; Dow Jones futures were down 1.3%, S&P 500 futures were down 1.6%, and Nasdaq futures were down 1.7%.
The negative sentiment had a ripple effect in European markets, which opened in the red on Thursday. The FTSE fell by 1%, the DAX 30 by 1.4% and the CAC by 1.3% in early trading.
Asian stocks also saw an overnight sell-off, though not so sharply. Japan’s Nikkei index fell by 0.6%, while South Korea’s KOSPI shed 1.2%. The Hong Kong Hang Seng suffered most, sliding by 1.7%., while mainland Chinese indexes were relatively unaffected; the Shanghai Composite slipped 0.4% and the Shenzen Component remained flat.
In addition to the absence of newly proposed stimulus measures, analysts noted that investors were likely spooked by the news that two officials on the Federal Open Market Committee voted against the move to keep the Fed’s inflation benchmark rate unchanged.
Connor Campbell, financial analyst at SpreadEx, said that the “no” votes indicated “a brewing hawk camp in an FOMC full of doves.”