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Top Trump official calls banks amid market rout



WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Pat. President Donald Trump's Treasury Secretary Called Top U.S. banks on Sunday amid and ongoing rout on Wall Street and made plans to convene a group of officials known as the "Plunge Protection Team."

U.S. stocks have fallen sharply in recent weeks on concerns about slowing economic growth, with the S&P 500 index <.SPX> on pace for the biggest percentage decline in December since the Great Depression.

"Today I convened individual calls with the CEOs of the nation's six largest banks, "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Twitter shortly before financial markets were due to open in Asia.

US equity index futures dropped late on sunday as electronic trading resumed to kick off a holiday shortened week. In early trading, the benchmark S&P 500's e-mini futures contract was off at about a quarter of a percent.

The Treasury said in a statement that Mnuchin talked to the chief executives of Bank of America Citi Goldman Sachs JP Morgan Chase Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo .

"The Treasury said that they have liquidity available for landing," the Treasury said. "

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin

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Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Trump's nominee for Treasury secretary, tests during his Senate Finance Committee's confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building, January 19, 2017.

(Photo by Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call)

Treasury Secretary nominee Steven M nuchin sits with Vanessa Trump (R), wife of Donald Trump Jr., before a ceremony for senior staff at the White House in Washington, DC January 22, 2017.

(REUTERS / Carlos Barria)

Incoming Trump administration Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin departs after working a simulated crisis scenario during transition meetings at the Eisenhower Executive Office at the White House in Washington, US January 13, 2017.

(REUTERS / Jonathan Ernst)

Producer Steve Bing (L) and Honoree Steven Mnuchin Receiving the Philanthropic Leadership Award Attend The Kaleidoscope Ball – Designing The Future Benefiting the UCLA Children's Discovery and Innovation Institute at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA at Beverly Hills Hotel on April 17, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Photo by Jason Merritt / Getty Images for BWR)

Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary nominee for US President Donald Trump, right, attends a ceremony of the White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered more conciliatory tone, saying he was recognized as a hallmark of our democracy.

(Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Steve Mnuchin and Lousie Linton arrives at the Premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures' 'Jupiter Ascending' at TCL Chinese Theater on February 2, 2015 in Hollywood, California.

(Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images)

Heather Mnuchin and Steve Mnuchin attend The Art Show Gala to Benefit The Henry Street Settlement at The Seventh Regiment Armory on February 23, 2005 in New York City.

(Photo by Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

Treasury Secretary nominates Steven Mnuchin attends the inaugural parade of US President Donald Trump in Washington, January 20, 2017. Donald Trump was sworn in earlier than the 45th President of the United States

(REUTERS / Lucas Jackson)

Donald Trumps' Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrives on the West Front of the US Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States

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Mnuchin's calls to the bankers came amid partial government shutdown that started on Saturday following an impasse in Congress about Trump's demand for more funds for a wall on the border with Mexico. Financing for about a quarter of federal government programs expired at midnight on Friday and the shutdown could continue to Jan. 3.

The Treasury said Mnuchin will convene on Monday with the president's Working Group on Financial Markets, which includes Washington's main stewards of the U.S. financial system and is sometimes referred to as the "Plunge Protection Team."

The group, which was also convened in 2009 during the laughter stage of the financial crisis, includes officials from the Federal Reserve as the Securities and Exchange Commission .

Wall Street is also following reports that Trump has privately discussed the possibility of firing Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. He had "never suggested firing" Powell.

Trump has criticized the U.S. central bank for raising interest rates this year, which could further dampen economic growth. The Fed's independence is seen as a pillar of the U.S. financial system.

In December alone, the S&P 500 <.SPX> is down nearly 12.5 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite [194590011] has slumped 13.6 percent. . The Nasdaq is now in a bear market, having declined nearly 22 percent from its record high in late August, and the S&P is not far off that level.

Corporate credit markets have been under duress as well, and measures of the investment Grade corporate bond market is worth their worst yearly performance since the 2008 financial crisis.

The high-yield bond market, where companies with the weakest credit profiles raise capital, has not seen a deal all month. The last time that happened in November 2008.


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