U.S. and European stock markets fell sharply Wednesday because of continuing concerns about weak U.S. economic growth and Europe’s debt problems. Asian stocks closed earlier Wednesday with gains.
The decline in Europe and the United States ended a strong stock rally that began Tuesday after top officials of the U.S. central bank said they will probably keep interest rates at their current ultra-low level until the middle of 2013.
The Fed said it took the action because of abeat assessment of the economy. Officials said they are worried that the nation’s economy is recovering more slowly and the labor market is weaker than expected.
The economy will be on the agenda at the White House Wednesday, when U.S. President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.
Stock markets across Asia closed in positive territory Wednesday, mirroring the previous day’s big rebound on Wall Street from Monday’s massive sell-off. European indexes also made huge gains in the early hours of their trading sessions, but fell off sharply as the day progressed.
Tuesday’s U.S. Federal Reserve meeting followed several days of steep losses for stock markets around the world, and Friday’s downgrade of U.S. credit by the Standard & Poor’s rating agency. Central bank officials said they discussed other policy options to boost the economy, and are ready to use them if needed.