U.S. markets suffered deeper losses Thursday, following on a global rout as investors lost their nerve over rising U.S. interest rates and fresh worries about an economic slowdown.

Concerns about U.S.-China ties weighed heavily, too. U.S. markets rebounded briefly after it was announced that President Trump would meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at next month’s G-20 summit in Buenos Aires to discuss the intensifying trade conflict.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down 2.1 percent, or 546 points, to 25,052. It pushed the two-day loss to nearly 1,400 points. The broad-index Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was off 2 percent, to 2,728. The tech-heavy Nasdaq notched its second day of trouble with a 1.3 percent loss, landing at 7,329.

The markets landed in the red despite a government report that showed consumer prices rose 0.1 percent last month, less than expected.

After the Dow dropped 832 points Wednesday, one of the worst sell-offs since February, Trump took aim at the Federal Reserve. Early Thursday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow in a news conferfence heralded the administration’s economic policies and assured the public that “the war on business is over.”

“We are the hottest economy in the world right now,” Kudlow said. “With all due respect, I don’t think this is anything resembling a sugar high.”

Michael Farr, chief executive of Farr, Miller & Washington, said the Fed might be nudged into slowing its pace, but that this cycle – of panic and gradual calming – will probably continue as the rates inevitably increase.

“What I expect to see is spates of this realization that the Fed has changed course,” Farr said. “I think that will create these various episodes of discomfort and selling as Wall Street reprices this new reality.”

The real litmus test will be how the markets react to third-quarter earnings reports over the next few weeks, and how the retail market delivers for the holiday season, said Howard Silverblatt, a senior analyst with S&P Dow Jones Indices.

“Volatility and concern is high,” Silverblatt said. “Hopefully earnings will take us away and we can focus on the fundamentals.”

Although he was suprised by depth of Wednesday’s drop, Ivan Feinseth, an analyst with Tigress Financial, was optimistic about the strength of the economy and called the sell-off an “incredible buying opportunity.”

The current panic might be quelled by de-escalation in the U.S. trade war with China, Feinseth said, as it could restore faith in the tech sector, which was hardest-hit in the past two days.

“Any kind of softening of the tensions with China would be a huge catalyst for the market,” Feinseths said.

China was among the hardest hit overseas, with indexes in Shanghai and Hong Kong falling 5.2 and 3.5 percent, respectively. More than a quarter of stocks on the Shanghai exchange fell by their 10 percent daily limit, according to Bloomberg, as the Shanghai Composite Index hit lows not seen since 2014.

The tech-heavy TWSE index in Taiwan plummeted 6.3 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei slid nearly 4 percent and the South Korean KOSPI index dropped 4.4 percent as foreign investors pulled out.

“If this continues for three consecutive days, it will be more than just a market correction – it’s more likely to be a really big sell-off,” said Jackit Wong, a Hong Kong-based vice president of global market research at MUFG Bank. “We’re hoping for a quiet day tomorrow.”

Markets in Europe came off their earlier losses after the inflation report. The Stoxx Europe 600 was down by 1 percent, with London’s FTSE 100 down by a similar percentage.

After U.S. tech shares plummeted overnight, Chinese Internet giant Tencent, Asia’s largest company by market capitalization and a major factor in the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index, was battered again as it fell 6.8 percent. Tencent has retreated 43 percent from its high this year and fallen out of the top 10 global companies by market value.

Li Daxiao, chief economist with Yingda Securities in Shenzhen, said both Shanghai and Shenzhen shares dropped more than expected on Thursday after the shock wave from the U.S. rout hit Asia. “Fear is being transmitted from market to market,” he said.

Investors were concerned that the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates and that this will slow economic growth and make borrowing more expensive for the U.S. government, as well as businesses and consumers.

“The U.S. market sell-off last night spooked sentiment and rekindled memories of similar trading sessions at the beginning of this year,” Medha Samant, investment director for Asian equities at Fidelity International, wrote in a note on Thursday morning, according to the Financial Times. “[It is] likely that this negative sentiment could roll over to the Asian markets in the short term,” she wrote.

Trump on Wednesday strongly criticized the Fed for tightening rates, again signaling that he wanted interest rates to remain low.

“The Fed is making a mistake. They’re so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy,” he told reporters while traveling in Pennsylvania on Wednesday. “It’s a correction that we’ve been waiting for, for a long time. But I really disagree with what the Fed is doing, OK?”

Jitters were already running high, thanks to the trade war between China and the United States, which is showing no signs of being resolved any time soon.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Chinese central banker Yi Gang at a World Bank conference in Indonesia on Thursday, a day after he warned China against “competitive devaluation” of its currency against the U.S. dollar as the trade war escalates.

The meeting came as Beijing – and investors worldwide – are waiting to see whether the Treasury Department labels China a currency manipulator next week in a report that could potentially set off a new round of recriminations between the two economic giants.

China’s renminbi stabilized around 6.93 to the dollar as of Thursday after falling sharply earlier in the week.

Yi did not tell reporters how the meeting with Mnuchin went on Thursday, but told the Chinese financial magazine Caixin that China was on course to hit its GDP growth targets despite concerns about the trade war and debt levels.

The renminbi had fallen “significantly” during the year and the Treasury Department is monitoring this “very carefully” to make sure China wasn’t manipulating its currency to gain an advantage in the trade war, Mnuchin told the Financial Times in an interview.

He said he wanted to discuss the currency with Beijing as part of the trade talks. “As we look at trade issues there is no question that we want to make sure China is not doing competitive devaluations,” he told the business newspaper.

Separately, the Treasury Department issued new rules on foreign investments into American companies, strengthening its power to block them on national security grounds. China has been the main target for these rules.

This ongoing friction is likely to suppress markets for some time, analysts said.

“As uncertainty continues to prevail in financial markets across the world, many investors are staying on the sidelines until more clarity emerges in U.S. Treasury and Chinese markets,” said Yasuo Sakuma, chief investment officer at Libra Investments, according to Reuters.

Shih reported from Hong Kong. Luna Lin contributed to this report from Beijing.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.