March 4, 2019 / 7:53 PM / 5 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-U.S. shares falter, investors await U.S.-China trade deal

(Updates to late afternoon, adds commentary)

* GRAPHIC-World FX rates in 2019: tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

* WSJ reports Trump-Xi trade summit likely this month

* Dollar hits one-week high, specs increase long dollar bets

* Weak U.S. construction data dents stock enthusiasm slightly

By Sinéad Carew

NEW YORK, March 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes turned lower and the dollar pared some gains on Monday, as investors appeared to need some convincing the United States and China would reach a trade agreement and weaker-than-expected construction data did not help their mood.

Oil futures were higher from news of OPEC output cuts and trade deal hopes but their rally also lost some steam as equity prices declined.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping might seal a trade deal around March 27, given progress in trade talks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Washington and Beijing have imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars worth of goods, roiling financial markets, disrupting manufacturing supply chains and shrinking U.S. farm exports.

A source briefed on the negotiations told Reuters the countries appear close to a deal that would roll back U.S. tariffs on at least $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

But while the reports had pushed up shares in Europe and Asia, Wall Street’s major indexes couldn’t sustain the rally and stayed lower after turning negative late in the morning.

“We’re hearing we’re close to a trade agreement for like the 78th time,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

“The market is now behaving as if government officials are crying wolf. How many times are you going to be able to say you’re near an agreement and get a positive reaction?”

U.S. Commerce Department data helped to sour the mood as it showed construction spending fell unexpectedly in December as investment in private and public projects dropped.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 285.21 points, or 1.1 percent, to 25,741.11, the S&P 500 lost 21.18 points, or 0.76 percent, to 2,782.51 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 47.24 points, or 0.62 percent, to 7,548.12.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.23 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.42 percent, with pressure from Wall Street.

TRADE HOPES

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 9/32 in price to yield 2.7241 percent, from 2.755 percent late on Friday.

“I think the market is ignoring some of the positive news overnight,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, interest rates strategist at TD Securities.

Treasury investors have priced in some possibility of a deal already, he said, so “the market is waiting for a deal to be signed, sealed and delivered until it prices in anything more.”

The U.S. dollar was boosted by the trade reports and held earlier gains against a basket of currencies after the weak construction data.

The dollar index rose 0.19 percent, with the euro down 0.43 percent to $1.1325.

Supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries fell to a four-year low in February, a Reuters survey found, as top exporter Saudi Arabia and its allies over-delivered on the group’s supply pact while Venezuelan output registered a further involuntary decline.

U.S. crude rose 0.84 percent to $56.27 per barrel.

In Asia, China’s blue-chip index rose 1.8 percent. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan, which has risen 10 percent so far this year, rose 0.2 percent on the day.

Spot gold dropped 0.5 percent to $1,287.42 an ounce.

Aside from U.S.-China trade negotiations, March is seen as a crucial month for global markets. The United Kingdom is due to leave the EU on March 29 but still has no deal in place governing its exit terms. The European Central Bank is scheduled to hold a policy meeting this week.

Additional reporting by Laila Kearney, Lewis Krauskopf, Kate Duguid and Richard Leong in New York, Ritvik Carvalho, Sujata Rao and Mike Dolan in London; editing by David Gregorio and Chizu Nomiyama

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