Yields, stocks down with focus on growth, central banks

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Benchmark U.S. Treasury yields sank to fresh 15-month lows on Wednesday and German bond yields fell further below zero after more dovish talk from central banks, while a gauge of world stocks fell amid new signs of concern for the global economy.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

China’s industrial firms posted their worst slump in profits since late 2011 in the first two months of this year, data showed.

The New Zealand dollar tumbled after the country’s central bank flagged a possible cut in interest rates, becoming the latest to turn dovish in the face of slowing global growth.

Meanwhile, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the ECB could further delay an interest rate hike and may look at measures to mitigate the side-effects of negative interest rates, warning that risks to growth were on the rise.

Markets were shaken on Friday, when the 3-month U.S. Treasury yield exceeded the yield on the 10-year note, an inversion of the yield curve that is widely seen as an indicator of a recession.

“People are still trying to figure out if the inverted yield curve means anything or not,” said Chuck Carlson, chief executive officer at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana.

“That’s the theme that has been happening for the last few days and I think is continuing today, is trying to weigh those global economic concerns,” Carlson said.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 32.14 points, or 0.13 percent, to 25,625.59, the S&P 500 lost 13.09 points, or 0.46 percent, to 2,805.37 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 48.15 points, or 0.63 percent, to 7,643.38.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.02 percent, as the region’s bank shares gained.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.42 percent.

Turkey’s main share index dropped 5.7 percent, as foreign investors in need of lira flocked to sell stocks and bonds, analysts said.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields slid as investors remained focussed on central bank dovishness globally.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 9/32 in price to yield 2.3806 percent, from 2.412 percent late on Tuesday.

Germany’s long-dated borrowing costs hit 2-1/2-year lows below zero percent. Germany sold debt with a negative yield for the first time since 2016.

The New Zealand dollar was on pace for its worst fall in seven weeks against its U.S. counterpart, as the country’s central bank unexpectedly said its next move in interest rates was more likely to be a cut, abandoning its neutral stance at a policy review.

“The market is anticipating that there is going to be dovishness from (the Reserve Bank of New Zealand) because there has been dovishness from other developed market central banks,” said Thierry Wizman, global interest rates and currencies strategist at Macquarie Limited in New York.

The dollar index, which measures the U.S. dollar against a basket of currencies, rose 0.16 percent, with the euro down 0.14 percent to $1.1248.

Oil prices slumped after government data showed U.S. crude inventories grew more than expected last week as a Texas chemical spill hampered exports.

U.S. crude settled down 0.9 percent at $59.41 per barrel and Brent settled at $67.83, down 0.2 percent.

Palladium prices plummeted as investors worried that prices had risen too far too fast and breaks below technical levels triggered automatic selling.

Additional reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed, Kate Duguid and Rodrigo Campos in New York; Editing by Janet Lawrence, Jon Boyle and Diane Craft