Global stocks turn lower as investors watch Fed comments


The index had five losses of 1 percent or more in February, more than it did in all of past year.

Today's losses came even as U.S. Treasury prices mostly rose, sending yields lower; the benchmark 10-year yield fell 4 bps to 2.87%, while the two-year yield finished flat at 2.26% after touching 2.28%, its highest level since September 2008, in intraday trading. Concerns got so high that the S&P 500 spiraled down 10 percent in just nine days at one point, before trimming some of its losses. That means Apple and other big US companies are dependent on customers not only in Peoria but also Paris and Peru. For February, the Dow lost 4.2%, the S&P 500 more than 3% and the Nasdaq almost 2%.

Stocks of smaller US companies, which tend to do more of their business at home, did much better than the rest of the market.

But some investors speculated it could mean the central bank will get more aggressive in raising interest rates. Gold usually rises when fears about inflation are climbing.

THE QUOTE: "Federal Reserve Chairman Powell erred to the hawkish side and had speculation running rampant that the Feds will trigger quicker pace of interest rate increases as the economy accelerates", says Stephen Innes, head of trading at Oanda, referring to remarks earlier in the week that has the market anticipating higher interest rates in the U.S. That could easily upset markets, which had been enjoying a remarkably smooth ride a year ago.

Earlier in the week, Powell's testimony helped send Treasury yields jumping and stocks tumbling when he said that he's feeling more optimistic about the economy. Later in the week, though, Powell may have calmed some of the fears when he said that he does not see inflation in wages "at a point of acceleration". It jumped $129.03, or 6.8 percent, to $2,034.04 after it reported a bigger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected, aided by stronger travel bookings. Shares dropped $6.02, or 13.1 percent, to $39.86. EOG Resources fell 4 percent.

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In Europe, France's CAC 40 fell 0.4 percent, and Germany's DAX lost 0.4 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 7 cents to $61.71 per barrel. Brent crude, the worldwide standard, shed 87 cents to $65.76 per barrel. The FTSE 100 in London was down 0.7 percent.

The dollar fell to 105.54 Japanese yen from 106.24 yen late Thursday.

MARKETS ABROAD: In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 plunged 2.5 percent, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong fell 1.5 percent and South Korea's Kospi dropped 1 percent.

Gold slipped 70 cents to $1,317.90 per ounce, silver lost 3 cents to $16.41 per ounce and copper dropped 5 cents to $3.13 per pound. The euro fell to $1.2179 from $1.2202.

In the commodities markets, natural gas sank 2 cents to $2.67 per 1,000 cubic feet, heating oil lost 5 cents to $1.92 per gallon and wholesale gasoline fell 5 cents to $1.76 per gallon.