The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day down 2.1 percent, or 546 points, at 25,052. That pushed the two-day loss to nearly 1,400 points. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index was off 2 percent, at 2,728. The tech-heavy Nasdaq notched its second day of trouble with a 1.3 percent loss, landing at 7,329.
The markets landed in the red despite a government report that showed consumer prices rose 0.1 percent last month, less than expected.
Ivan Feinseth, an analyst with Tigress Financial, was optimistic about the strength of the economy and called the sell-off an “incredible buying opportunity.”
The current panic might be quelled, he said, by de-escalation in the U.S. trade war with China. It could also bolster faith in the tech sector, which was pummeled in the past two days.
“Any kind of softening of the tensions with China would be a huge catalyst for the market,” Feinseth said.
After the Dow dropped 832 points Wednesday, one of the worst sell-offs since February, President Trump strongly criticized the Fed for raising rates, again signaling that he wanted interest rates to remain low.
“The Fed is making a mistake. They’re so tight. I think the Fed has gone crazy,” he told reporters while traveling in Pennsylvania on Wednesday. “It’s a correction that we’ve been waiting for, for a long time. But I really disagree with what the Fed is doing, okay?”
Early Thursday, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow in a news conference heralded the administration’s economic policies and assured the public that “the war on business is over.”
“We are the hottest economy in the world right now,” Kudlow said. “With all due respect, I don’t think this is anything resembling a sugar high.”
Michael Farr, chief executive of the investment management firm Farr, Miller & Washington, said the Fed might be nudged into slowing its pace of raising rates, but that this cycle — of panic and gradual calming — would probably continue.
“What I expect to see is spates of this realization that the Fed has changed course,” Farr said. “I think that will create these various episodes of discomfort and selling as Wall Street reprices this new reality.”
The real litmus test will be how the markets react to third-quarter earnings reports over the next few weeks and how the retail market delivers for the holiday season, said Howard Silverblatt, a senior analyst with S&P Dow Jones Indices.
“Volatility and concern is high,” Silverblatt said. “Hopefully earnings will take us away, and we can focus on the fundamentals.”
After U.S. tech shares plummeted Wednesday, Chinese Internet giant Tencent, Asia’s largest company by market capitalization and a major factor in the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index, was battered. By end of U.S. trading Thursday, Tencent had announced that it would delay its planned initial public offering because of the market retreat.
Jitters were already running high, thanks to the U.S.-China trade war, which has shown few signs of being resolved anytime soon.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Chinese central bank governor Yi Gang at a World Bank conference in Indonesia on Thursday, a day after he warned China against “competitive devaluation” of its currency against the U.S. dollar as the trade war escalates.
Yi did not tell reporters how the meeting with Mnuchin went, but he told the Chinese financial magazine Caixin that China was on course to hit its GDP growth targets despite concerns about the trade war and debt levels.
The renminbi had fallen “significantly” during the year, and the Treasury Department is monitoring this “very carefully” to make sure China is not manipulating its currency to gain an advantage in the trade war, Mnuchin told the Financial Times.
He said he wanted to discuss the currency with Beijing as part of the trade talks. “As we look at trade issues there is no question that we want to make sure China is not doing competitive devaluations,” he told the business newspaper.
Separately, the Treasury Department issued new rules on foreign investments in American companies, strengthening its power to block them on national security grounds. China has been the main target of these rules.
This ongoing friction is likely to suppress markets for some time, analysts said.
“As uncertainty continues to prevail in financial markets across the world, many investors are staying on the sidelines until more clarity emerges in U.S. Treasury and Chinese markets,” said Yasuo Sakuma, chief investment officer at Libra Investments, according to Reuters.
Shih reported from Hong Kong. Luna Lin in Beijing contributed to this report.