NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stock markets swooned while bond and commodities prices fell sharply on Thursday, a day after the U.S. Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy was growing strongly enough for it to begin slowing its unprecedented stimulus to the U.S. economy.
The U.S. dollar rallied further against the euro and yen on after the stronger-than-expected readings on business activity in the U.S.
In U.S. economic data, home resales jumped to their highest level in 3-1/2 years in May, and a rebound in June in factory activity in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region to its highest level in more than two years, added to fears that the era of easy money is on the wane.
Equities on Wall Street fell more than 1.0 percent while stocks in Europe dropped more than 2.0 percent. Government debt prices fell, with yields on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rising to 2.41 percent, a level last seen almost two years ago.
“The market tends to overshoot and will continue to do so. We’ll probably see an overreaction to this,” said Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 224.82 points, or 1.49 percent, at 14,887.37. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 25.32 points, or 1.55 percent, at 1,603.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 46.97 points, or 1.36 percent, at 3,396.23.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 4/32 in price to yield 2.3693 percent.
The euro fell to a session low of $1.3162, a two-week low. It was last at $1.3181, down 0.85 percent on the day.
The U.S. dollar rose 1.5 percent to 97.90 yen.
Oil fell $3 a barrel while gold prices tumbled to their lowest in more than 2-1/2 years and silver fell more than 6 percent as markets reacted to Bernanke’s comments and a drop in Chinese factory activity to a nine-month low.
Emerging markets, many of which have been primed by the cheap Fed cash, saw some of the biggest selling as investors rushed to the exits.
MSCI’s benchmark index for emerging equities slumped 4.3 percent and shares across the Asian Pacific region outside Japan recorded their biggest daily drop since late 2011.
MSCI’s all-country world index fell 2.98 percent, its largest single-day drop in 19 months. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional shares fell 2.86 percent to 1,146.27.
Factory output in China, the world’s second largest economy, weakened to a nine-month low in June, combining with a continued recession in the euro zone to threaten a global recovery led by the United States.
A day after the Federal Reserve suggested the U.S. economy was firmly on a recovery path - enough so to withdraw some monetary stimulus - data showed China’s economy was stuttering.
Faltering demand pushed the flash China HSBC Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) down to 48.3 in June from 49.2, increasing pressure on the People’s Bank of China to loosen the monetary reins.
Meanwhile, Markit’s Flash Eurozone Composite PMI, which makes up around 85 percent of the final reading and is seen as a reliable economic growth indicator for the bloc, remained below the dividing line between growth and contraction.
It did, however, rise to 48.9 in June from May’s 47.7, suggesting the decay has eased across the 17-nation bloc.
China’s economy grew at its slowest pace for 13 years in 2012 and data so far this year has been weaker than forecast, bringing warnings the country could miss its 7.5 percent growth target, though possibly not by much.
Crude oil prices also took a hit from a surprise increase in U.S. crude inventories, even in the midst of the summer driving season when demand for gasoline rises. Stocks rose by over 300,000 barrels, in contrast to the 500,000 barrel drop analysts forecast.
Brent crude was down $3.49 to $102.63 a barrel, while U.S. oil declined $2.92 to $95.32.
Spot gold prices fell $48.08 to $1,302.60 an ounce.
Additional reporting by Richard Hubbard in London, reporting by Herbert Lash, editing by Clive McKeef