Stocks down: Stocks slide as Mnuchin's call with bank CEOs raises eyebrows

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President Donald Trump has no intention of firing the chairman of the Federal Reserve, despite his barrages of criticism against the central bank, White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett said Wednesday.

"They're raising interest rates too fast", said Trump, to reporters in the Oval Office, NBC News reported.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on reports that Trump is planning to meet with the Fed's Powell in the near future.

The Dow dropped by 2.9% and the S&P 500 fell 2.7%, the biggest drops ever for the two indexes on Christmas Eve.

Mr Trump, asked if he has confidence in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said: "Yes I do, very talented guy, very smart person". We have companies, the greatest in the world, and they're doing really well.

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Contrary to USA media reports that Trump's frustration with Mnuchin ratcheted up after the latter's failed attempt to put a brake on the free-fall of major US stock indices leading to the Christmas holiday, the president told reporters Tuesday morning in the Oval Office that he has confidence in Mnuchin, and that the secretary is a "very talented and very smart person". The Standard & Poor's 500 index closed about 20% below its all-time high from late September, while the Nasdaq Composite closed 23% from its record peak.

Among issues rattling investors are the ongoing USA trade dispute with China, the interest rate rise and the Friday's partial government shutdown, which followed Congress's failure to agree a budget over funding for Trump's border wall. "I think it's a tremendous opportunity to buy".

Before that quarter-point rate rise, Trump had complained in a tweet that it was "incredible" for the Fed to consider "yet another interest rate hike". Stock prices have plunged in recent weeks on concerns about the economy. "In the face of a large correction in the market, there seems to be disarray and disunity and people aren't speaking with one voice, which I think is discouraging to anybody in the market".

In an official statement, the treasury said he held talks with the CEOs of Wells Frago, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citi and Bank of America.

Mnuchin's attempts over the weekend to assure investors only seemed to make matters worse as the confusing signals from Washington sent the markets plunging. Trump has criticized Powell and the Fed for increasing interest rates, subjecting Powell to the kind of scathing public critique that is common for senior Trump appointees but which threatens the political independence of the worlds most powerful central bank.