Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace
Photo: AFP/Anthony Wallace

The first day of trading on Wall Street for 2019 picked up where the story left off, with benchmarks swinging wildly from sharp losses at open to climbing into the green by early afternoon.

One story helping to drive the abrupt turnaround is the about-face of Fed funds futures, a gauge for market bets on interest rate hikes. The futures prices now show a nearly 90% probability that interest rates will be at their current level or lower by the end of 2019. That is a 180-degree reversal from just several months ago when investors were betting on a 90% probability of higher rates.

That expectation has been prompted by headwinds facing the global economy, including weak manufacturing data coming out of China and a contraction in global trade driven by the US trade war.

European stocks were mixed following a selloff in Asian equities, led by China. The Hang Seng Index was down 2.77% to start the year, with Hong Kong-listed mainland stocks weighing on the benchmark, down 2.83%.

The Shanghai Composite fell 1.15% and South Korea’s KOSPI was down 1.52%, while Japanese exchanges were closed for holiday.