Stocks trade flat as recession fears simmer, gold gains

Fawad Maqsood August 28, 2019

NEW YORK: A gauge of global equities traded little changed on Tuesday, pulled lower by sliding stocks on Wall Street as prospects of a US-China trade deal remained uncertain and demand for US Treasuries and precious metals rose on recession fears.

Gold futures rose as recession concerns gripped investors even as US consumer confidence fell less than expected in August, with households still upbeat about the labor market despite an escalation in the ongoing US-Sino trade spat.

An inversion of the US yield curve deepened to levels last seen in 2007, leading yields on 10-year Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) to slip deeper into negative territory on strong demand for bonds.

An inverted yield curve occurs when the return on shorter-dated government debt is greater than 10-year or longer-dated securities, an infrequent occurrence that can signal recession.

“The inverted yield curve is certainly a recessionary signal,” said Chris Gaffney, president of world markets at TIAA Bank.

Remarks by US President Donald Trump that China had offered to resume trade talks eased some investor concerns, though uncertainty prevailed as Beijing declined to confirm the president’s assertion.

US stocks initially opened higher, building on Monday’s advance, on Trump’s comments. China’s foreign ministry, however, reiterated that it had not received any recent US telephone calls on trade.

“You have this degree of uncertainty and what has seemed to be a period of heightened uncertainty,” said Bill Northey at US Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.

Financial shares, which tend to weaken in lower rate and soft economic environments, lost 0.89% on Wall Street.

Ten-year Treasuries rose 16/32 in price to push their yield down to 1.4895%.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.01%. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of leading regional shares closed up 0.61% while MSCI’s emerging market index rose 0.3&.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 110.43 points, or 0.43%, to 25,788.4. The S&P 500 lost 10.12 points, or 0.35%, to 2,868.26 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 36.18 points, or 0.46%, to 7,817.55.

The dollar fell modestly against the Japanese yen while the euro also declined against the greenback.

The dollar index fell 0.09%, with the euro down 0.07% to $1.1092. The Japanese yen strengthened 0.34% versus the greenback at 105.79 per dollar.

Oil prices rose in highly volatile trade, buoyed by expectations of a drawdown in US crude inventories, though gains were capped by worries about a recession and uncertainty over a China-US trade deal.

Global benchmark Brent crude was rose 81 cents to settle at $59.51 a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude gained $1.29 to settle at $54.93 a barrel.

US crude oil inventories were forecast to have fallen by over 2 million barrels last week, a Reuters poll showed, ahead of industry data after the market closes.

US gold futures for December settled up 1% at $1,551.80 an ounce.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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