"Federal Reserve" is the only problem in United States economy, says Trump

Trump once boasted of market gains, now tweets cause drops

Trump reiterated his view that the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates too fast, but called the independent agency's rate hikes a "form of safety" for an economy doing well.

Trump has singled out his handpicked chairman of the Fed, Jerome Powell, for blame, insisting that the bank's interest rate hikes are responsible for the downturn.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office after a Christmas video conference with US troops deployed overseas, Trump also said USA companies were "the greatest in the world" and presented a "tremendous" buying opportunity. On Friday, the S&P 500 closed at 2,416, leaving it down 17 percent on the quarter and more than 9 percent for the year.

"I am highly confident that the president is very happy with Secretary Mnuchin", White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett told Fox Business Network.

The index was down 2.71 percent at 2,351.10 at the close Monday - a 20.06-percent fall from the September 21 intraday high of 2,940.91.

U.S. President Donald Trump's budget director and chief of staff, Michael Mulvaney, said on Sunday the partial U.S. government shutdown could continue into January, when the new Congress convenes and Democrats take over the House of Representatives.

"The headlines we are seeing today, yesterday, over the weekend are not great", said Vinay Pande, global head of trading strategies at UBS Global Wealth Management. Stock prices have plunged in recent weeks on concerns about the economy. The President said Powell and his team "will get it pretty soon".

The remarks represent Mr Trump's first expression of public support for Mr Mnuchin and Mr Powell since people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News last week that the President had discussed dismissing the Fed chief, who was recommended by Mr Mnuchin.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average.DJI fell 653.17 points, or 2.91 percent, to 21,792.2, the S&P 500.SPX lost 65.52 points, or 2.71 percent, to 2,351.1 and the Nasdaq Composite.IXIC dropped 140.08 points, or 2.21 percent, to 6,192.92.

According to Mnuchin, however, Trump said, "I totally disagree with Fed policy".

The treasury stated: "The CEOs confirmed that they have ample liquidity available for lending", adding that Mnuchin "also confirmed that they have not experienced any clearance or margin issues and that the markets continue to function properly".

The assurance comes in the face of repeated attacks on the central bank by the President, who most recently called the Fed the United States economy's "only problem" on Monday.

While the comments were meant to be reassuring, they appear to have spooked investors instead.

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