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Markets ended a volatile week sharply down after oil hit near-seven-year lows and a major corporate merger highlighted global growth woes. For the week, the S&P 500 fell 3.79%, the Dow dropped 3.26%, and the NASDAQ lost 4.06%.1
Worries about the global economy took center stage last week as oil prices skidded to multi-year lows on warning of a supply glut. U.S. crude oil futures dropped over 10% lower for the week on expectations that oil prices may suffer from declining demand, high production volume, and a warm weather forecast.2
Also underscoring the global weakness was the news that two of America’s largest corporate behemoths – Dow Chemical [DOW.WD] and DuPont [DD] – have agreed to combine in one of the largest mergers in U.S. history.3 Though the deal may yield cost-cutting benefits to shareholders, investors largely viewed it as a move to battle darkening global growth.4
All this gloom and doom about the global economy complicates the upcoming Federal Reserve decision about raising interest rates. In August, when a surprise move by the Chinese to devalue the yuan sent shockwaves through financial markets, the Fed declined a rate hike.5 Now, the Chinese are loosening the yuan again, raising concerns about the health of the world’s second-largest economy.6
Will global woes derail the Fed’s intent to raise rates? We’ll have to see.
Official statements from the Fed have emphasized that the Fed is closely weighing the strengthening domestic economy against global concerns in their rate decisions. Currently, Wall Street odds strongly favor a December rate hike, with one firm putting the probability at 79%.7
In the week ahead, all eyes will be on the Fed’s meeting, and investors will focus on the official announcement and Janet Yellen’s press conference on Wednesday afternoon. Investors will also look carefully at manufacturing and industrial production data to see whether global woes are affecting critical domestic industries.
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