On Thursday, Wall Street saw stocks falling nearly 1 percent, with the US dollar sinking to a five-week low after President-elect Donald Trump’s eagerly awaited news briefing the previous day ignored his fiscal policies, which are expected to boost the economy.
Following gains of nearly 3 percent on Wednesday, Brent crude was up 88 cents at $55.98 a barrel, while US crude was trading up 1.4 percent at $52.97. The weaker dollar also helped the metals markets, causing gold to rise to a seven-week high just shy of $1,200 per ounce, while London copper traded up almost 2 percent after electronic trading there was delayed by a five-hour outage.
Apparently, investors were hoping for commentary on the incoming Trump administration’s plans for fiscal stimulus and tax cuts. Instead, Trump remarked on a broad range of topics such as the Mexican wall, allegations of Russian hacking and his business interests, but neglected to talk about what investors wanted to hear — fiscal spending.
“The lack of focus in Mr. Trump’s first press conference since winning the election fanned worries about the president-elect’s willingness or ability to drive a pro-growth agenda once in office,” said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst, at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange in Washington.
In late morning trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 157.13 points, or 0.79 percent, at 19,797.15, the S&P 500 fell 16.5 points, or 0.725173 percent, to 2,258.82 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 53.70 points, or 0.97 percent, to 5,509.95.
The dollar has hit a five-week trough against other major currencies and was on track for its worst week since November. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, last traded down 0.7 percent at 101.04. The dollar slid to a five-week low versus the yen and last traded down 1.3 percent at 113.91 yen.
Benchmark US Treasury 10-year note prices rose 13/32, with the 10-year note yield down at 2.321 percent. German 10-year yields, however, rose to 0.313 percent.
Overnight, European shares also fell, bucking gains in Asia and weighed down by a 2 percent slump in healthcare stocks after Trump slammed pharmaceutical firms, saying that they have been “getting away with murder” with their prices.
In commodity markets, oil was higher, which have been boosted by the news that Saudi Arabia has cut oil output to its lowest in almost two years, according to its energy minister. The world’s largest oil exporter leads OPEC’s drive to eliminate a global glut and prop up prices.