The Federal Reserve announced this morning that it would inject $1.5 trillion into short-term bank to bank lending markets today and tomorrow. The U.S. central bank will offer $500 billion in a three-month repo operation at 1:30 p.m. and repeat the exercise tomorrow, along with another $500 billion in a one-month operation, and continue on a weekly basis for the rest of the monthly calendar.
The Fed also announced it will buy $60 billion worth of Treasury bonds for the next month (March 13 through April 13) to provide liquidity to the Treasury market.
This very aggressive action from the Fed has helped U.S. stocks recover from an 8% loss earlier today that had triggered a trading halt.
But even this move wasn’t enough to move stocks into the black against a wave of bad news on the coronavirus outbreak and U.Sl testing (or lack thereof), credit problems at energy and travel companies (and the banks that have lent to them) and a continued oil production war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
The Fed’s action led to a rally in the major U.S. indexes as of 1 p.m. New York time. At that point the Standard & Poor’s 500 had recovered from its earlier heavy losses to was down 3.77% to 2637.93. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was lower by 3.87%, pushing that index further into the bear market territory it had reached in yesterday’s close. The NASDAQ Composite was off 3.86%.
But from that “recovery” stocks have been off to the races again on the downside. As of 2:20 the S&P 500 was down 7.90% and the Dow was down 8.51%. The NASDAQ Composite was lower by 7.60% and the small cap Russell 2000 had lost 8.84%.