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Asian and European markets were mostly down Friday, still reeling from the effect of Wednesday's US Federal Reserve announcement that it was lowering its 2019 growth forecast from 2.5 per cent to 2.3 per cent.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite and the blue-chip CSI 300 fell 0.8 per cent and 0.9 per cent, respectively, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng was off 0.7 per cent. Naturally, lower profitability for firms, resulting in lower valuations and hence stock market declines, something we have been experiencing since October.

There hasn't been one major shock that has sent stocks plunging.

"He thinks his legacy is going to be the guy who rebuilt and revived the US economy".

"The LEI increased slightly in November, but its overall pace of improvement has slowed in the last two months".

As they look ahead, investors are finding more and more reasons to worry.

This comes as the US and China continue to be in the middle of their 90-day truce as they work on trade. Economies in Europe and China are slowing. This suggests that the economy would most likely grow faster than in the three-hike scenario, given that the average interest rate during 2019 would be lower.

Dysfunction in Washington isn't helping the situation, with another Trump administration cabinet member announcing his resignation this week and the government tonight on the brink of a partial shutdown.

In its statement, the Fed said risks to the economy were "roughly balanced" but that it would "continue to monitor global economic and financial developments and assess their implications for the economic outlook". It's down 39 percent since late July on concerns about a slowdown in user growth, multiple privacy and safety scandals, as well as the possibility of increased regulation in the future.

No sector of the market has been spared. The stock market fell on the news that Powell was not wearing his Santa outfit.

Technology's huge popularity during the recent boom years made it even more vulnerable as investors' moods turn sour.

British government is not planning for second Brexit vote: Minister - International
No stranger to the challenge posed to Tory leaders by Euroceptic MPs, Sir John has made several interventions on the issue. On the right of the Labour Party, however, some pro-European figures have voiced strong support for a new vote.

"If they do it right, it could actually help the market", said David Kelly, chief global strategist for JPMorgan Funds.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq indexes underperformed Wednesday as Facebook tumbled as much as 7 per cent on mounting concerns over user privacy.

New Commerce Department data released Friday showed the USA economy slowed more than expected in the third quarter, although the economy still appears to be robust. The economy is expected to slow further in the current quarter.

"Moving forward, my colleagues and I will be watching the economy closely for indications that the stance of policy is appropriate to sustain the expansion with a strong labour market and inflation near two per cent", Powell said.

The S&P 500 is nearly 16 percent below the peak it reached in late September.

In New York, U.S. S&P 500 Index lost 1.54 percent to hit its lowest level since September 2017.

Energy stocks were down by almost one per cent despite oil prices bouncing overnight, while healthcare and telco shares also edged lower.

Today the price of US crude slipped 0.6 percent to $45.59 a barrel in NY.

The front-month USA crude contract dropped 1.8 per cent to $47.32 per barrel, while global benchmark Brent crude futures were down 1.3 per cent at $56.50 per barrel. Natural gas jumped 6.5 percent to $3.82 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Both oil contracts slid Thursday, reversing strong gains from a day earlier on concerns about growth and United States oversupply, and tracking equity losses. Bond prices surged, though, sending yields lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dipped to 2.78 percent from 2.79 percent. Since the Fed typically moves in increments of 0.25 percentage points, that means the neutral position could be reached with a single additional bump.

Yesterday, the Fed said "some" further gradual rate increases were likely. The euro rose to $1.1368 from $1.1357 and the British pound dipped to $1.2621 from $1.2639.


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