NW YORK, New York - There was much volatility on Wall Street on Wednesday as investors dithered with which direction to take stocks.
Talks continued on a new stimulus package and while there was little progress to report House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remained optimistic a deal could still be done.
"As long as she keeps dangling the carrot out there that there's still a chance that something could get done investors continue to remain optimistic," Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles told Reuters Thomson Wednesday.
"You would rather have more long exposure than have too much cash if an agreement is reached. That's a big if."
At the close on Wednesday the Dow Jones Industrial Average had lost 97.97 points, or 0.35 percent, at 28,210.82.
The Standard and Poor's 500 lost 7.56 points, or 0.22 percent, to 3,435.56.
The Nasdaq Composite fell 31.80 points, or 0.28%, to 11,484.69.
The U.S. dollar which began the day with a sharp drop in Asia, continued falling in the European and U.S. sessions. By the close on Wednesday the euro was trading at a 1-month high at 1.1859. The British pound was sharply higher at 1.3143. The Japanese yen strengthened to 104.56. The Swiss franc firmed to 0.9049.
The Canadian dollar was higher at 1.3140. The Australian dollar climbed to 0.7115. The New Zealand dollar zoomed up to 0.6653.
Stocks in Europe and the UK dropped sharply. In London the FTSE 100 finished 1.91 percent lower. The German Dax skidded 1.41 percent, while the Paris-based CAC 40 lost 1.53 percent.
On Asian markets, in Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 jumped 95.13 points or 0.40 percent to 23,662.17.
The Australian All Ordinaries added 6.30 points or 0.10 percent to 6,403.10.
In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng rallied despite the disclosure by Cathay Pacific that it would shed nearly 6,000 jobs and drop it's regional Cathay Dragon brand. This spells significantly bad news for the hospitality and tourism sector in Hong Kong which survives and thrives on tourism. Nonetheless the Hang Seng jumped 184.88 points or 0.75 percent to 24,754.42.
In China, the Shanghai Composite was little changed, declining 3.08 points or 0.09 percent to 3,325.02.