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GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks slide, dollar gains ahead of Fed minutes
August 21, 2013 / 5:10 PM / 4 years ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks slide, dollar gains ahead of Fed minutes

* Markets brace for release of Fed minutes

* Dollar recovers from 6-month low vs euro

* Oil prices fall on reports Libya may resume exports

By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Global equity markets slid for a fifth day on Wednesday and the dollar strengthened ahead of a report from the latest Federal Reserve policy-setting meeting that is expected to hint, at the least, of a pullback of economic stimulus in September.

Most U.S., European and emerging market stocks fell, as did U.S. Treasury and German bond prices, amid caution ahead of the release of the Fed’s minutes from its July 30-31 meeting at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT).

The dollar edged higher from a six-month low against the euro and gained versus the yen as traders bet the minutes will reinforce expectations of a pullback in the Fed’s bond-buying program aimed at spurring growth by keeping interest rates low.

Investors are looking for insight on how and when the Fed will begin to cut back on its bond buying, said Wilmer Stith, co-manager of the Wilmington Broad Market Bond Fund in Baltimore.

“Even if we don’t really get anything out of the minutes that sheds new light on the question, at the end of the day people are getting set up for a tapering event in September,” Stith said.

MSCI’s all-country stock index was down 0.61 percent at 367.96, while the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top regional shares closed down 0.6 percent at 1,207.71.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 62.14 points, or 0.41 percent, at 14,940.85. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 6.12 points, or 0.37 percent, at 1,646.23. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 10.44 points, or 0.29 percent, at 3,603.16.

“I believe tapering is going to begin in September because it has to. The market needs to adjust to the beginning of getting back to normal on rates,” said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at ING U.S. Investment Management in New York.

Adding to the view that the Fed will begin to taper next month, U.S. home resales rose in July to the highest level in over three years, suggesting sharply rising borrowing costs are having only a limited impact on the housing market’s recovery.

The National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday that existing home sales jumped 6.5 percent, well above analysts’ expectations, to an annual rate of 5.39 million units.

Analysts said the August nonfarm payrolls data, due on Sept. 6, will be closely watched by investors and policymakers to determine whether improvement in the U.S. labor market is enough to justify scaling back stimulus.

German 10-year bond yields rose as high as 1.892 percent, just below levels on Monday that were the highest since March 2012, and last yielded about 1.87 percent.

German Bund futures settled 47 ticks lower at 140.14.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 2/32 in price to yield 2.8253 percent.

Half the economists polled by Reuters expect the Federal Open Market Committee to begin slowing its asset purchases from September.

The euro was down 0.31 percent at $1.3375. The dollar index, which measures the greenback versus a basket of six currencies, rose 0.34 percent to 81.179.

Against the yen, the dollar rose 0.34 percent to 97.59 .

Brent crude oil fell below $110 a barrel on reports some Libyan oil exports might soon resume and on news the Seaway crude oil pipeline had shut, halting shipments from the U.S. Midwest to the Gulf Coast.

Brent futures for October were down 36 cents at $109.79 a barrel. U.S. October oil was $1.40 lower at $103.71 a barrel.

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