US stocks skid after Fed keeps zero rate

New York - Wall Street stocks fell sharply in early trade on Friday, joining leading European bourses in retreating a day after the US Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate at zero.

About 15 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 16 450.96, down 223.78 points.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 1.09% to 1 968.60, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.90% to 4 849.80.

The Fed on Thursday, following a two-day policy meeting, opted against pulling the trigger and enacting the first rate hike in nine years.

The US central bank cited concerns about global growth, with chair Janet Yellen expressing worries about "a risk of a more abrupt slowdown than most analysts expect."

Most Asian equity markets advanced on Friday, but bourses in Paris and Frankfurt were down more than three percent.

The decision means uncertainty over US monetary policy will continue to dog financial markets.

"What that should ensure is that the roller-coaster ride the capital markets have been on since August will keep going, twisting and turning, and perhaps throwing riders for a loop occasionally, with incoming data points and inter-meeting speeches from Fed officials," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.

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