Markets plunge in fear of end to US money-printing

Global sell-off on Fed move wipes out the last of the gains made by London's benchmark FTSE 100 this year

New York

Traders and investors around the world began selling stocks and
bonds yesterday, sucking money out of global markets after the US
Federal Reserve signalled that it could begin rolling back its
bond-buying programme later this year and end it altogether around
next summer.

The prospect sent investors rushing for the exit at such speed that, in New York, both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average recorded their worst daily declines since 2011. The Dow fell by 353.87 points, down 2.3 per cent, to 14,758.3, while the S&P 500 dropped by 2.5 per cent to 1,588.19.

Hours earlier, in London, the FTSE 100 sank to its lowest close since mid-January, ending 3 per cent in the red at 6159.51. The index has now seen virtually all its gains for the year wiped out less than a month after it was closing in on its all-time high of 6930. In Europe, Germany's DAX index was down more then 3 per cent, while in Paris, the CAC 40 fared even worse, slumping by 3.7 per cent.

The global market rout came after a 200-point drop in the Dow on Wednesday, which was triggered by comments from the Fed chairman Ben Bernanke that if economic data in the US continued to show signs of improvement, the central bank could begin cutting the size of its stimulus programme later this year.

The programme – under which the Fed buys $85bn worth of mortgage and government bonds every month – could then end altogether around the middle of next year, he said.

In its latest forecasts, meanwhile, the Fed also projected a decline in US unemployment to between 6.5 per cent and 6.8 per cent by the end of 2014, earlier than perviously anticipated. However, the Fed's key interest rate is unlikely to rise any time soon.

While the timeline for the reversal of the bond buying programme could change depending on the economic outlook, Mr Bernanke's comments gave investors the clearest indication yet of the thinking inside the central bank.

That triggered a panic, amid concerns about the outlook for the global economy once the Fed yanks away the crutches. Feeding the fears was overnight data from China that showed a decline in manufacturing output.

On the bond markets, the selling drove up the UK Government's cost of borrowing to its highest level for more than a year as investors exited sovereign debt across the board.

Yields on the Government's benchmark 10-year gilt jumped 18 basis points at one stage to 2.32 per cent, the highest since March 2012 – having already risen from a recent low of 1.6 per cent at the beginning of May.

One dealer said gilt trades had hit double their usual volume on a frenetic day of selling: "The moves in the market are akin to what you would expect if there was a surprise interest rate hike."

Rising gilt yields are usually associated with recovery as the prospect of interest rate rises draws nearer. But the turmoil underlines the risks involved in exiting five years of exceptional monetary stimulus by central banks around the world.

The poor news from China, where faltering demand depressed factory output in June to a nine-month low, also combined with a stronger dollar to drag oil prices lower.

Gold, which has been fuelled by money printing and rock-bottom interest rates, sank nearly 5 per cent to $1,285.90 at one stage – the weakest in nearly three years.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all