Markets fall despite massive promises from US Fed

23 March 2020, 17:44

Federal Reserve sign
Markets down despite Fed promises. Picture: PA

The FTSE closed the day down 3.8% or 196.89 points at 4993.89.

It seemed like nothing the US Federal Reserve can do would calm the markets on Monday as stocks dropped across the globe despite another massive stimulus package from the central bank.

The FTSE 100 was one of the day’s many losers as it fell by 196.89 to 4993.89.

The Fed announced unlimited buying of US treasuries in a bid to shore up the economy, however it failed to have much impact on stocks.

“For the umpteenth time since the coronavirus crisis took hold, the Federal Reserve offered the markets an unprecedented package, only to have the door slammed in its face,” said Connor Campbell, an analyst at Spreadex.

“This time out, Jerome Powell and co announced essentially an unlimited version of its bond-buying quantitative easing programme by stating it would purchase securities ‘in the amounts needed’.”

He added: “Combine this with all the previous measures taken by the Fed – the rate cuts, cash injections and the like – and you have a staggering amount of monetary policy announced in less than a month. Yet look at the markets and you’d think the Fed hadn’t done a single thing.”

London’s top index reacted positively for a while just after midday, eradicating an approximately 4% drop.

However, it soon gave back the gains.

International markets also fared poorly, with Germany’s Dax index losing 2.2% of its value, and the Paris-based Cac 40 dropping by 4.3%.

Shortly after markets closed in the UK, both the Dow Jones and S&P 500 in the US were trading down around 1.5%.

A barrel of Brent crude oil became nearly 5% cheaper at 26.07 dollars.

Meanwhile, sterling had a bad day as the pound dropped by 1.7% against the dollar to 1.148 and 2.2% against the euro to 1.0678.

In company news, ITV shares tumbled by 5% to 60.02p as it announced that advertising from across all sectors has been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, as it said it could not provide accurate guidance for the year’s trading outlook.

The broadcaster said the most recent Government measures, which have resulted in restaurant and shop closures, have “had an increasing impact on our advertising revenues”.

Shell fared much better, seeing a 6.1% jump after revealing plans to heavily cut operating costs and spending proposals to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and tumbling oil prices.

The company said it will reduce its operating costs by three billion to four billion US dollars (£2.6 billion to £3.4 billion) for the next 12 months.

Pearson, whose shares have been on a downward trajectory since the beginning of last year, added to its woes as it lost 9.1% to 454.50 after warning on profits.

The academic publisher said test sites in the UK, US and South Africa had been forced to close until the middle of April.

Stagecoach gained 8% and Go Ahead 2.3% even though both warned investors should not expect a payout, while FirstGroup was 4.7% up after suspending its financial guidance.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Kingfisher, up 17.25p to 143.4, Royal Dutch Shell ‘A’, up 65.2p to 1127.4, M&G, up 6.2p to 116.8, Royal Dutch Shell ‘B’, up 34p to 1067.6, and Whitbread, up 52p to 2.22.

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Hargreaves Lansdown, down 238.5p to 1158, easyJet, down 78.6p to 521.4, St James’s Place, down 95p to 660, Melrose Industries, down 12.2p to 87.3, and Ferguson, down 570p to 4086.

By Press Association

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