US 

US Treasury seeks to reassure markets

US Treasury seeks to reassure markets

The US Treasury Secretary has sought to reassure investors as stock markets continue their downward trend.

Steven Mnuchin said he had spoken to the chief executives of six of the USA's largest banks who had confirmed to him they had "ample liquidity" to continue their operations and that markets were continuing to function properly.

This came after the S&P 500 lost some 9 per cent over the past seven days as US stocks had one of their worst weeks in a decade.

The FTSE 100 is also down over the past week, losing 2.5 per cent, while the Hang Seng is down 2 per cent.

All three of these indices are down over the past year, reporting losses of 10 per cent, 12 per cent and 13 per cent respectively, largely down to their poor performance in the second half of 2018.

Meanwhile, the US government is in partial shutdown over spending plans.

Seeking to reassure investors, Mr Mnuchin said: "We continue to see strong economy growth in the US economy with robust activity from consumers and business."

Last week the Federal Reserve increased interest rates again - to a range between 2.25 per cent and 2.5 per cent - despite pressure from US President Donald Trump who has described rates raises as "crazy".

Oliver Blackbourn, a fund manager on the Janus Henderson multi asset team, said: "The Fed is in a difficult position. Investors appear to have real concerns about an approaching US recession despite consensus forecasts for solid growth over the next two years.

"Normally, this would suggest that the market expects lower interest rates. However, for the Fed to cut interest rates, it would need to admit that the economy is rolling over – this is contradictory to their own forecasts.

"US economic growth is expected to moderate but, like the Fed, we do not yet see signs that a recession is imminent.

"Slower interest rate rises may take some of the steam out of the US dollar rally, easing financial conditions for those in the rest of the world that are dependent on the greenback for funding, such as emerging markets."

damian.fantato@ft.com