Global stocks, oil slide, U.S. dollar gains on gloomy data
By Herbert Lash
(Reuters) – Global stocks and oil slipped while bond prices rose on Wednesday after a batch of weak U.S. economic data and an unexpected rise in crude inventories suggested the road to recovery is still bumpy.
Oil markets fell as the rise in U.S. crude stocks and a strengthening U.S. dollar led investors to rethink their hopes the economy was fully on the mend and take a more cautious as oil prices approached $70 a barrel.
The U.S. dollar bounced from a 2009 low against the euro that was hit earlier in the day after central bank sources in Asia said they would keep buying U.S. government debt even if the credit rating for the United States were to be cut.
Copper fell on the renewed concerns about the outlook for demand and U.S. Treasuries mostly rose, bolstering the safe-haven bid for government debt.
“People are booking profits (in stocks and commodities) and going into safe havens,” said David Dietze, chief investment strategist at Point View Financial Services in Summit, New Jersey.
Half a million U.S. private sector jobs were lost in May and home mortgage applications fell last week in the face of rising interest rates. The news is a policy dilemma for the Federal Reserve, which has pledged trillions of dollars to keep market rates low, only to watch them shoot higher in recent weeks.
There were glimmers of hope that the U.S. recession was easing, although the data remained bearish.
The service sector, which accounts for about 80 percent of economic activity, contracted for the eighth straight month in May even as the rate of deterioration slowed.
Another report showed planned layoffs at U.S. firms fell for a fourth straight month in May to the lowest level in eight months, suggesting the pace of future job cuts could slow.
“We would agree that the pace of economic contraction is slowing,” said Tyler Vernon, principal and portfolio manager at Biltmore Capital Advisors in Princeton, New Jersey.
“We still don’t think we are out of the woods yet. There is still potential for a double dip. Unemployment is still going to the moon and deficits are rising,” Vernon said.
The Institute for Supply Management said the U.S. services sector shrank again in May, as the index edged up to 44.0, but was shy of expectations. A reading below 50 indications the sector is contracting.
U.S. employers cut 532,000 jobs in May, according to the ADP Employer Services report, slightly worse than the median 520,000 forecast in a Reuters survey.
After 1 p.m.(1700 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average finance/markets/index?symbol=us%21dji”>.DJI was down 110.07 points, or 1.26 percent, at 8,630.80. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX was down 17.29 points, or 1.83 percent, at 927.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 23.07 points, or 1.26 percent, at 1,813.73.
European also stocks fell, led by banking, energy and mining shares, as the disappointing U.S. data raised doubts about a recovery in corporate earnings.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed down 2.0 percent at 868.10 points.
The dollar rose against a basket of major currencies, with the U.S. Dollar Index .DXY up 1.26 percent at 79.473.
The euro fell 1.16 percent at $1.4137, while against the yen, the dollar was up 0.33 percent at 95.97.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose 16/32 in price to yield 3.55 percent. The 2-year U.S. Treasury note rose 2/32 in price to yield 0.91 percent.
U.S. light sweet crude oil fell $3.02 to $65.53 a barrel.
Spot gold prices fell $17.20 to $963.65 an ounce.
Asian shares overnight rose to fresh eight-month highs as U.S. home sales data from Tuesday added to optimism that the global economy is through the worst.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei stock average .N225 rose 0.4 percent, while the MSCI index of Asian shares excluding Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 1.3 percent to a new eight-month peak.