Stock Market Searches For Direction As Traders Decipher Powell Testimony

Stocks dive on worries about steel and aluminum tariffs

The S&P 500 added 0.3%, and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.6%.

About 9.0 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges.

U.S. Steel was up $2.26, or 5.2 per cent, to $45.77, and AK Steel jumped 45 cents, or 6.5 per cent, to $5.50.

Health care (-1.6%) also lagged, with Celgene plunging 9% to its lowest level in more than three years after receiving a refusal to file letter from the FDA about a multiple sclerosis drug candidate. It was dragged down by commodity prices and concern the U.S. Federal Reserve will speed up interest rate increases this year.

The Dow gave up 4.3% in February, notching its biggest monthly drop in more than two years and paring its advance over the past 12 months to 20%.

"Trump has always been accused of prioritising protectionist populist measures over those that will benefit both domestic and global growth, something he has repeatedly dismissed, claiming the measures being considered were aimed at making trade fair and reciprocal". They surged in the morning following reports that the White House planned to make the announcement shortly, only to lose most of the gains when subsequent reports said the announcement may not happen.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve is likely headed for three rate hikes in 2018, but investors are anxious that policymakers may be more aggressive. Analysts and traders have cautioned that much of the turbulence this week may stem from market positioning as much as a substantial change of tack by Powell. "We'd rather see strength coming in in the last hour", Hellwig said. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.

Kelly Again Alters White House Description of Porter Departure
The White House continually changed its story about what it knew about the accusations against Porter, and when. But Kelly said he had not personally known about accusations against Porter until the afternoon of February 6.

The department store operator's shares rose 2.5 percent in premarket trading.

The disclosure follows a report in the Wall Street Journal that the SEC sent subpoenas to dozens of companies demanding information about initial coin offerings and cryptocurrencies, which aren't bound by the same rigorous rules that govern public offerings of stock.

Inc.'s stock (CRM) rose 4.7% after the software company's quarterly results beat expectations (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/salesforce-shares-wobbly-as-results-outlook-top-street-view-2018-02-28). Brent crude, the worldwide standard, shed 87 cents to $65.76 per barrel.

France's CAC 40 fell 1.1 per cent and Germany's DAX was down 2 per cent.

The dollar dipped to 106.40 from 106.66 yen late Wednesday. The euro fell to $1.2189 from $1.2202. The FTSE 100 in London dropped 0.8 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 1.39%.

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