The stock market turned lower in afternoon trading Wednesday after the Federal Reserve issued a cautious assessment of the U.S. economy in its latest policy statement.
As markets closed on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 222.8 points, about 1.4 percent, at 15,944.5. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 20.7 points, about 1.1 percent, to 1,883. The Nasdaq composite declined 99.5 points, about 2.2 percent, to 4,468.2.
CRUDE ENERGY: As the markets closed the price of U.S. benchmark crude oil was up 56 cents, about 1.8 percent, to $32.01 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, was up $1.14, about 3.6 percent, at $32.94 a barrel.
THE FED: The Federal Reserve said it was closely watching developments in the global economy and financial markets and how they might pressure the U.S. economy. It also said U.S. economic growth had slowed. Since the Fed’s last meeting in December, oil prices have plunged, stocks have swung wildly, and investors have become more concerned that China’s huge economic engine, a major driver of global growth, is sputtering. As expected, the Fed left its benchmark interest rate unchanged, after raising it for the first time in nearly a decade in December.
THE QUOTE: David Chalupnik, head of equities for Nuveen Asset Management, said investors hope that the Fed will move slowly in making future interest rate increases. Chalupnik, speaking shortly before the Fed released its latest policy statement, said he thinks the Fed will raise its key rate only one time this year, at its policy meeting in June. “They should be backing off their intended path at this point,” he said, because economic growth in the U.S. has slowed a little.