Shares tumble on global growth concerns; Treasury yields fall

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock indexes worldwide tumbled on Monday, led by banking stocks in Europe and technology stocks on Wall Street on persisting fears of a global economic slowdown, while benchmark 10-year Treasury yields hit their lowest in a year on demand for assets deemed less risky.

European shares extended the previous week’s big losses, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index of regional shares closing at its lowest level since October 2013.

The STOXX Europe 600 banking index fell 5.6 percent, making it the top sectoral decliner. The index has lost more than 24 percent this year on concerns about banks’ profitability and capital strength in an environment where monetary stimulus continues to pressure margins.

Wall Street extended Friday’s technology-led selloff, with the benchmark S&P 500 stock index falling as much as 2.7 percent before paring losses. The S&P financial index closed down 2.6 percent, with Bank of America, JPMorgan and Citigroup dragging down the index.

The cost of insuring the European financial sector’s senior debt against default also climbed to its highest level since late 2013.

Global oil markets fell 3 percent to settle down for a third straight day on worries that U.S. crude stockpiles had reached new record highs, while a Saudi-Venezuela meeting to boost prices showed little progress.

Chesapeake shares tumbled 33 percent after sources told Reuters that the natural gas producer had tapped existing adviser Kirkland & Ellis to explore restructuring options. Earlier, the stock halved before being halted.

Traders work at their desks in front of the German share price index, DAX board, at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Staff

“What’s getting the bulk of the attention today is concerns about the quality of bank balance sheets, and, as is always the case, the market reacts quickly and paints with a pretty broad brush,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

Brent crude settled $1.18 lower at $32.88 a barrel, while U.S. crude settled down $1.20 at $29.69 a barrel.

MSCI’s all-country world equity index was last down 6.72 points, or 1.83 percent, at 359.85.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 177.92 points, or 1.1 percent, at 16,027.05. The S&P 500 closed down 26.61 points, or 1.42 percent, at 1,853.44. The Nasdaq Composite ended down 79.39 points, or 1.82 percent, at 4,283.75.

Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed 3.38 percent lower at 1,239.73.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields hit a one-year low of 1.7330 percent, as the stock market decline and concerns about slowing global growth increased investor appetite for safe-haven government debt.

U.S. 10-year Treasury notes were last up 26/32 in price to yield 1.7585, from a yield of 1.848 percent late Friday.

“There’s a complete risk-off trade around the world and U.S. Treasuries have notably become a clear beneficiary of that risk-off tone,” said Justin Lederer, Treasury strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York.

The dollar fell to its lowest level against the yen since November 2014 of 115.170 yen, after doubts about the effectiveness of the Bank of Japan’s negative interest-rate policy drove investors back into the safe-haven currency.

Safe-haven spot gold reached a peak of $1,200.60 an ounce, its highest since June 22.

Additional reporting by Jemima Kelly, Nigel Stephenson and Susan Fenton in London, Dion Rabouin and Tariro Mzezewa in New York and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Meredith Mazzilli