US Stocks Are Sharply Lower After Fed Decision
New York (Sept 18) Stocks hovered near session lows on late Friday morning as investors scrutinized the Federal Reserve's decision to stand pat on interest rates.
The S&P 500 was down 0.91%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1%, and the Nasdaq slid 0.68%.
The central bank left the Fed funds rate near zero, a level it has held for almost a decade, citing "global economic and financial developments." The Fed was likely influenced by recent market volatility tied to China's slowdown. Fed members voted to keep the Fed funds rate between zero and 0.25% in a nine-to-one vote.
Market observers think the Fed has made stocks even more volatile because of continued uncertainty over a Fed rate hike. The Fed's dot plot forecast showed that Fed members expect interest rates to close out the year at 0.40%, meaning a hike in October or December is probable. A majority of Fed members expect to raise rates this year, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a press conference.
"The question still remains as to whether or not we'll see one by the end of the year," Mike Meyer, vice president at EverBank World Markets, told TheStreet. "Whenever the Fed does decide to do it (whether it's October or December of this year or it moves into sometime in 2016), ... it looks to be more of a one-and-done as opposed to a series of rate hikes."
Crude oil prices were sharply lower as a selloff in equities bled into commodity markets. West Texas Intermediate crude was down 2.6% to $45.70 a barrel. The energy sector was the worst performer on markets. Major oilers Exxon Mobil (XOM - Get Report) , Chevron (CVX - Get Report) , Schlumberger (SLB - Get Report) , and ConocoPhillips (COP - Get Report) slid, while the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) fell 1.7%.
Apple (AAPL) shares were on watch after the company won a court ruling against Samsung. The ruling blocks Samsung from selling some of its older phones in the U.S. unless certain features that infringe on Apple's patents are disabled. However, the ruling only applies to smartphones released in 2012, such as the Galaxy S3.
Qualcomm (QCOM) will cut more than 1,300 full-time jobs in San Diego as it faces slowing demand in a lower-growth smartphone market. Qualcomm also will cut hundreds more jobs in other states. The chipmaker had previously announced in July plans to cut its global work force by 15% and slash expenses by $1.4 billion annually.
Adobe (ADBE) was down more than 2% despite a better-than-expected third quarter. The software company earned 54 cents a share, 4 cents above estimates, while sales surged 21% and beat forecasts by $10 million. Adobe also announced that its digital media chief, David Wadhwani, will leave the company to "pursue a CEO opportunity." The company also provided softer-than-expected guidance for the fourth quarter.
Texas Instruments (TXN) jumped 1% after announcing plans to buy back another $7.5 billion in stock, good to repurchase 15% of shares outstanding at current prices. The company also increased its quarterly dividend to 38 cents a share from 34 cents.
Comcast (CMCSA) was 1% lower after agreeing to pay $33 million to settle a complaint over whether it illegally shared personal information of customers who paid for unlisted service. The company will refund 75,000 affected customers.
La Quinta Holdings (LQ) tumbled 16% after the hotel chain announced the departure of CEO Wayne Goldberg in what it said was a mutual decision. Chief Financial Officer Keith Cline will act as interim CEO while a permanent replacement is being found.
AK Steel (AKS) spiked 6% after guiding for a narrower-than-expected loss in its third quarter. The company expects a loss of 2 cents to 7 cents a share, far less than analysts' estimates of a loss of 24 cents.