Asian, European Markets Join Global Sell-Off

It was a rough first day for the new Fed chief
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2018 5:30 AM CST
New Fed Chief Had a Rough First Day at Work
Jerome Powell arrives to take the oath of office as Federal Reserve Board chair at the Federal Reserve, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – The first day in a new job is often tough—especially when you're the new chief of the Federal Reserve and the Dow Jones has the largest single-day point drop in its history. The 4.6% drop means Jerome Powell is unlikely to have much of a honeymoon period as Fed chief—analysts say the fall is unlikely to be a direct result of his appointment, though it may have contributed to a general sense of uncertainty, NBC reports. There have been major stock market sell-offs in the early months of many other Federal Reserve chiefs, including Alan Greenspan, who started just two months before the crash on Oct. 19, 1987. In other coverage:

  • Asian markets. Asian markets plunged Tuesday, raising fears of a global sell-off that will hit US markets for another day, NPR reports. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dived 4.7% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down around 5%. The Shanghai, Singapore, and Australian indexes were also down.

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  • European losses. European investors also unloaded shares Tuesday, causing major falls in stock market indexes in London, Frankfurt, and Paris, the BBC reports.
  • Bitcoin. The losses weren't limited to stock markets: Reuters reports that bitcoin dropped below $6,000 before recovering slightly early Tuesday. It is now at less than a third of the peak near $20,000 that it reached before Christmas. Other cryptocurrencies are also down massively.
  • Economies "doing too well?" According to the New York Times, one major reason for the drop is that investors are worried world economies are "doing too well," which could cause central banks to take steps including raising interest rates. The Times notes that while this was the largest drop in point terms for the Dow Jones, there have been plenty of other drops the same size or bigger in percentage terms, including in 2011.
  • Disbelief. The Wall Street Journal reports that the major drops, which have wiped out around $4 trillion from world markets, have caused disbelief and panic in markets around the world. Some New York traders thought a "fat finger" mistake was to blame. "What we’re seeing is bloodshed," says strategist Jingyi Pa in Singapore, though she predicts markets will calm down in a couple of days.
  • What to do? The AP has a guide to what just happened, and some words of advice to investors—including "Stay calm."
(The White House downplayed the stock market plunge Monday night.)

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