Dow falls 250 points as unraveling oil price shows ‘global economy in a tough spot’

U.S. stocks are down Friday afternoon, following a hotter-than-expected reading on producer prices, a continuing decline in oil prices, and after the Federal Reserve met expectations by holding interest rates steady before an expected rate hike next month.

How are benchmarks performing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.77% was down 250 points, or 1%, at 25,940, and the S&P 500 index SPX, -0.97% was off 36 points, or 1.3%, at 2,771, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -1.73% was retreating 163 points, or 2.2%, at 7,396.

On Thursday, the Dow DJIA, -0.77% gained 10.92 points to 26,191.22, while the S&P 500 index  SPX, -0.97% shed 7.06 points, or 0.3%, to 2,806.83 and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -1.73% fell 39.87 points, or 0.5%, to 7,530.88.

For the week, the Dow is poised to register an increase of 2.7%, the S&P 500 was on pace to return 1.8% over the past five sessions, while the Nasdaq was looking at a 0.2% gain over the same period.

What’s driving the market?

Chairman Jerome Powell’s Fed held benchmark rates at a range between 2% and 2.25% on Thursday afternoon, and said that the central bank “expects further gradual increases in the target range for the federal-funds rate.”

The policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee delivered no surprises to Wall Street investors. However, investors will continue to wrestle with policy makers’ hopes to normalize interest rates after a decade of easy-money policies.

The key factors that have renewed doubts in the minds of investors are an unceasing decline in oil prices, which has raised questions about the health of the global economy, and persistent anxiety on Wall Street regarding the health of the Chinese economy, the world’s second largest.

Recent data indicate that auto sales in China dropped 12% in October to 2.38 million,

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