Dollar rocked by Trump Fed comments; global stocks mostly fall
AFP – The dollar took a hit on Thursday after President Donald Trump expressed disappointment in higher Federal Reserve interest rates while global stocks mostly fell on lingering trade war fears.
Trump, in part of an interview aired by CNBC, broke with the long-established executive branch practice of not commenting on the Federal Reserve’s decisions out of respect for its independence
"I’m not thrilled," Trump told the network in an interview excerpt aired Thursday. "Because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again."
"I’m not happy about it. But at the same time I’m letting them do what they feel is best."
The dollar index tumbled immediately after the remarks were broadcast, although it gradually rose somewhat from those lows.
In addition to raising questions about Trump’s views of central bank independence, the remarks were bearish for the US currency for another reason, analysts said.
The comments suggests Trump sees a strong dollar "as a major disadvantage for the US economy," said Omer Esiner of Commonwealth Foreign Exchange.
That stance echoes remarks earlier this year from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the desirability of a weak dollar that pressured the American currency.
"Further signs that suggest this administration considers the dollar to be another weapon in their trade war arsenal could significantly impact the dollar’s performance going forward," Esiner said.
Global stocks mostly retreated, with analysts pointing to continued worries over trade wars.
– US carmakers worried –
In Washington, automakers and suppliers at a public hearing pleaded with Trump’s administration to reject tariffs on vehicle imports, which they say could cripple domestic manufacturing and cause job losses.
Meanwhile in Brussels, EU Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom said the EU would "think out of the box" in a bid to find a solution, but she warned officials were preparing to respond with what she called "rebalancing measures" should the US follow through with the auto tariffs.
An EU source told AFP the retaliatory levies could be worth 10 billion euros ($11.5 billion).
The Dow snapped a five-day winning streak following a round of mostly disappointing results from big companies, including blue-chip firms Travelers and American Express.
Big decliners included Alcoa, which plummeted 13.3 percent after cutting its profit forecast due to US tariffs on aluminum imports, and eBay, which dived 10.1 percent after forecasting disappointing sales.
Comcast gained 2.6 percent as it said it was pulling out of the bidding war with Walt Disney Co. for film and television operations of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and would focus on acquiring the European pay TV operator Sky.
Fox lost 0.3 percent, while Disney gained 1.3 percent.
– Key figures at 2100 GMT –
New York – Dow: DOWN 0.5 percent at 25,064.50 (close)
New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.4 percent at 2,804.49 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,825.30 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1 percent at 7,683.97 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.6 percent at 12,686.29 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: DOWN 0.6 percent at 5,417.07 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.4 percent at 3,471.64 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.1 percent at 22,764.68 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.4 percent at 28,010.86 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 2,772.55 (close)
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3017 from $1.3069 at 2030 GMT
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1647 from $1.1639
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 112.40 yen from 112.86 yen
Oil – Brent Crude: DOWN 32 cents at $72.58 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 70 cents at $69.46 per barrel