Global stocks drift lower


MADRID • Stocks in Europe edged lower alongside US index futures after a mixed session in Asia as signs emerged that the global rally in equities is stalling. The dollar rose with US Treasuries while India investors assessed a surprise interest-rate cut by that nation’s central bank.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell for the first time in eight sessions, pulled lower by declines in automakers. Banks held their ground as positive results from UniCredit SpA and DNB ASA outweighed sharply lower trading revenue from Societe Generale SA. Futures on the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq indexes all nudged down.

In Japan, shares fell amid a raft of corporate earnings, although SoftBank Group Corp surged 18% on plans for its biggest- ever buyback. China and Hong Kong markets were shut.

A gauge of the dollar climbed for a sixth day as US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell gave a brief, but positive assessment of the economy and several of the world’s central banks put their tightening plans on hold. Emerging-market currencies and stocks slipped.

Investors face a lack of fresh impetus to extend the 2019 rally in risk assets ahead of meetings between China and the US to discuss trade next week. In Washington, there was little progress on the domestic front with the deadline approaching for Congress and the White House to reach a deal on keeping the government open. Asian traders remain hamstrung by a dearth of activity as many markets remained shut for Chinese New Year.

Elsewhere, the rupee briefly fell after the Reserve Bank of India cut the repurchase rate by a quarter-point, a decision predicted by just 11 of 43 economists, but the currency recouped the modest decline.

Iron ore held near the highest level in almost two years after Brazil’s Vale SA raised further supply concerns. These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks: The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 0.2% as of 9:39am London time yesterday, the first retreat in more than a week. Futures on the S&P 500 Index declined 0.2%, the biggest drop in more than a week.

The MSCI World Index of developed countries fell 0.2%. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index decreased 0.3%.

Currencies: The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.2% with its sixth straight advance.

The euro fell 0.2% to US$1.1341 (RM4.65). The British pound declined 0.3% to US$1.2899, hitting the weakest in more than two weeks with its sixth straight decline. The MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index fell 0.2%, reaching the lowest in more than a week.

Bonds: The yield on 10-year US Treasuries fell one basis point (bp) to 2.69%. Germany’s 10-year yield fell 1bp to 0.16%. Britain’s 10-year yield fell 1bp to 1.203%.

Commodities: Gold fell less than 0.05% to US$1,305.95 an oz. West Texas Intermediate crude dipped 0.4% to US$53.79 a barrel.

Natural gas fell 1.6% to US$2.62 per one million British thermal units. London Metal Exchange copper fell 0.4% to US$6,256.50 per metric tonne. Iron ore rose 3.3% to 604 yuan (RM364) per metric tonne on its seventh consecutive advance. — Bloomberg