Calm Returns to Wall Street After Brief Dip

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U.S. financial markets were relatively placid Wednesday after Tuesday's big drop. Stocks got a lift after encouraging comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

RENÉE MONTAGNE, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renée Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Two days after a big stock market drop, let's take a tour of a jittery and interconnected world. In a moment we'll hear about markets in China and Europe. And on Wall Street this morning, the stock market continued its slide. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 200 points at the opening of the markets today. It's now down about 100 points. And we're going now to NPR's Adam Davidson to learn more.

Adam, what's happening?

ADAM DAVIDSON: Well, it's gone down. Like you said, the Dow Jones went down. Although just a few minutes ago it bounced up a tiny bit, though not into positive territory because some new data came out that U.S. manufacturing has actually been picking up. But I think this bouncing downing, bouncing up, it shows what's going on right now, which is a real fundamental confusion about where the U.S. economy is going and, frankly, where the global economy is going.

This morning we had one report saying unemployment is up. That scares people. Then we had another report saying personal income is up. We'll that reassures people. Then we have this manufacturing data. But just a few days ago, we had really bad durable goods data. So this up and down, up and down, there's a real fundamental question, is the world and the U.S. economy heading in a good direction or a bad direction? And that is being reflected in this kind of crazy week on the market.

INSKEEP: As you talk to people on Wall Street, does anybody get that feeling like when you're in the airplane and it takes a sudden drop?

DAVIDSON: You hear a lot of the phrase flight to quality, which I guess maybe when you're in that airplane, you want to fly, you want to go straight to, like, a train or something. People are rushing into the bond market, into more stable, less terrifying, less rollercoaster investments. In fact, this would be a really good time probably to refinance your mortgage if you could do it right today. Because so much money is going into the bond market that interest rates are going down there. Pretty sure you're going to see gold going up. People are looking for those stable simple investments.

INSKEEP: And in a just a couple of seconds, sounds like no one thing is driving this drop today again?

DAVIDSON: If there's one thing, the word is risk aversion. People are scared of the risk.

INSKEEP: Okay. NPR's Adam Davidson. He's covering Wall Street today.

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