U.S. stocks, dollar fall on Fed's nod to market turmoil

Wed Jan 27, 2016 4:49pm EST
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By Richard Leong

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street stocks and the dollar fell on Wednesday as the Federal Reserve held U.S. interest rates unchanged, as expected, and said it was closely monitoring global economic and financial developments.

The Fed's more cautious outlook reduced the likelihood it would raise rates by a quarter-point four times this year, which hurt the greenback, but its latest assessment on the economy did not wipe out the chances of a possible rate increase in March, which disappointed some stock investors.

“The Fed did the right thing by not making any significant changes, if they did come out and sound overly dovish I think that would effectively shut the door on a March hike," said Tom Porcelli, chief economist at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

The Fed's acknowledgement of risks to the domestic economy, with oil prices hitting 12-year lows and jitters about Chinese growth, revived some safe-haven bids for gold and U.S. Treasury debt prices.

Oil futures clung to earlier gains, brushing off the Fed's more cautious outlook since its December policy meeting when the central bank raised rates for the first time in nearly a decade.

"The committee is closely monitoring global economic and financial developments and is assessing their implications for the labor market and inflation," the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed's policy-setting group said in a statement.

New Zealand's central bank also decided to leave local interest rates unchanged but said more easing may be required due to low inflation.

Analysts and investors said the statement signaled U.S. policymakers have scaled back their view on the chances of a rate hike at its next meeting in March.   Continued...

Trader Greg Rowe asks for a price from a Specialist trader at the Barclay's post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid