US stocks tumble again on worries over Ukraine, Fed

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished decisively lower on Wednesday (Feb 23) after an early rally sputtered amid worries over the Ukraine crisis and shifting Federal Reserve policy.

It was the fourth straight drop for major indices, reflecting unease at the deteriorating outlook in Ukraine, especially after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised two eastern provinces' independence earlier this week.

On Wednesday, Ukraine's Parliament imposed a national state of emergency aimed at helping to forge a response to the threat of a full-scale Russian invasion.

The market "is really agitated with all the uncertainty", said analyst Patrick O'Hare, who also said wariness over the Fed's shifting policy was an exacerbating factor.

Mr O'Hare noted that United States Treasury yields rallied on Wednesday, a sign that investors are not buying bonds in a so-called "flight to quality".

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.4 per cent to 33,131.76.

The broad-based S&P 500 sank 1.8 per cent to 4,225.50, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 2.6 per cent to 13,037.49.

Among individual companies, home improvement chain Lowe's advanced 0.2 per cent as it reported better-than-expected quarterly results and an upbeat earnings forecast.

But TJX, parent of retail chain TJ Maxx, dropped 4.2 per cent as it reported disappointing results due to elevated labour and freight costs and declined to offer a full-year projection because of uncertainty over how long costs will stay pressured.

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