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Stocks retreat as Fed grows more cautious

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By Stephen Bernard

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks and interest rates tumbled Wednesday as investors worldwide grew increasingly concerned about the health of the U.S. economy based on actions by the Federal Reserve.

U.S. investors followed the lead of overseas stock markets, which fell sharply. Japan's Nikkei stock average was hit especially hard by the rising value of the yen, which will hurt the exporting sector. The dollar is at a 15-year low against the yen.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 200 points. Broader indexes fell about 2 percent.

The Fed said Tuesday it will start buying government bonds with money it gets from the maturing mortgage-backed bonds that it bought during the recession. The goal is to try to cut interest rates on mortgages and corporate loans, which in turn would increase borrowing and help the economy grow faster.

It could also drive the prices of Treasurys so high and their yields so low that they are no longer attractive investments, forcing traders to move into riskier assets that have the potential for bigger profits, like corporate debt and stocks.


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