Asian markets traded mixed on Thursday, as investors reacted to the Fed’s limited response to the economic slowdown, along with weak factory data from China. The Nikkei climbed .8% to 8824, as exporters gained thanks to a weakening in the Yen. The Kospi slumped .8% to 1889, the ASX 200 fell 1.1% as oil and materials stocks struggled. In China, the Shanghai Composite sank 1.4% to 2261, and the Hang Seng declined 1.3% to 19265, as Chinese manufacturing contracted for its 8th straight month.
European stocks closed lower, snapping a 4-day winning streak. The FTSE dropped 1% to 5566, the DAX fell .8% to 6343, and the CAC40 edged down .4% to 3114. Resource stocks dropped 3%, as the weak Chinese data suggested demand for raw materials is likely to weaken.
In the US, weak economic data triggered a powerful selloff hit US stocks, as the major indexes dropped at least 2%. The Dow tanked 251 points to 12574, the Nasdaq tumbled 2.4%, and the S&P 500 dropped 2.2% to 1326. The VIX surged 16.5% to 20.08, indicative of a sharp rise in market fear.
Energy stocks tumbled 4.1%, as crude oil fell below $80.
Bed Bath and Beyond tumbled 17% after reporting a weak earnings forecast.
Treasuries and Commodities
Bonds posted only moderate gains, despite the sharp drop in equities. 10-year notes rose 11/32 to yield 1.62%, and 30-year notes climbed 1% to yield 2.69%.
Commodities fell sharply, and metals were particularly hard hit. Silver plunged 5.5% to 26.825, gold tumbled 3.1% to 1566, and copper sank 2.6% to 3.301.
Crude oil fell 3.8% to 78.32, an 8-month low, and gasoline dropped 1.5% to 2.5525. Natural gas escaped the downdraft, jumping 2.9% to 2.589, after the weekly storage report showed storage levels were lower than forecast.
The US Dollar soared against its peers, as the market fled from risk. The Australian Dollar was the largest loser, plunging 1.6% to 1.0030. The Euro and Swiss Franc fell 1.3% to 1.2543 and .9578 respectively, and the Yen sank 1.1% to 80.32.
Thursday’s economic reports painted a grim economic outlook for the US. Flash manufacturing PMI fell to 52.9 from 54, and the Philly Fed manufacturing index tumbled to -16.6 vs. forecasts for a rise to 0.7. Existing home sales dropped to 4.55M from 4.62M, and weekly unemployment claims came in at 387K, 6K more than forecast.
No major economic reports are due on Friday. Earnings are expected from Carnival and Darden Restaurants.