NEW YORK, New York - U.S. retail sales fell 1.1 percent last month, triggering major stock market falls.
While investors were encouraged that the retail figures indicate inflation is dipping, they also stoke fears of a recession.
"Consumers are likely retrenching during a time of economic uncertainty," Jeffrey Roach, chief economist at LPL Financial in Charlotte, North Carolina told Reuters Wednesday.
"The trajectory for the economy is weakening and recession risks are rising for 2023," Roach said.
The Dow Jones industrials sustained the most damage, diving 613.89 points or 1.81 percent to close Wednesday at 33,296.96.
The Standard and Poor's 500 retreated 62.11 points or 1.56 percent to 3,928.86.
The Nasdaq Composite decreased 138.10 points or 1.24 percent to 10,957.01.
The U.S. dollar had a volatile day, losing ground early only to reverse losses and finish strongly. The euro, which jumped to a new recent high of 1.0887 earlier in the day, crumbled to finish Wednesday around 1.0790.
The British pound soared to 1.2436 before sellers overwhelmed the unit forcing it down to 1.2336.
The Japanese yen had a topsy turvy day, hitting a high of 127.56, and a low of 131.57. The Japanese currency was steady at 128.80 around the New York close Wednesday.
The Swiss franc surged to 0.9163. The Canadian dollar missing an invite to the party, it weakened sharply to 1.3492.
The Australian dollar, after hurdling to a new recent high of 0.7063, crumbled to finish Wednesday around 0.6937.The New Zealand dollar traded higher at 0.6431.
Overseas equity markets were mixed. The FTSE 100 in London declined 20.33 points or 0.26 percent to 7,830.70.
The German Dax dipped 5.27 points or 0.03 percent to 15,181.80.
The Paris-based CAC 40 added 6.23 points or 0.09 percent to 7,083.39.
In Asia, the big mover was Japan's Nikkei 225 which surged 652.44 points or 2.50 percent to 26,791.12.
The Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 100.36 points or 0.47 percent to 21,678.00.
China's Shanghai Composite, was unchanged, up just 0.16 of a single point at 3,224.41.
The Singapore Straits Times index edged up 9.04 points or 0.28 percent to 3,289.55.
The Australian All Ordinaries climbed 11.90 points or 0.16 percent to 7,609.50.
Indonesia's Jakarta Composite slipped 1.55 points or 0.02 percent to 6,765.79.
In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 rose 39.41 points or 0.33 percent to 11,920.41.
South Korea's Kospi Composite lost 11.07 points or 0.47 percent to 2,368.32.