NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks and government debt yields fell on Thursday after the release of a whistleblower complaint that accused President Donald Trump of pressing Ukraine to investigate one of his main political rivals in next year’s U.S. presidential election.
Yields on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note fell below 1.7% for most of the session and stocks on Wall Street slid, leading a gauge of equity performance around the globe to pare gains and trade lower on the day.
European shares closed solidly in the black after the Chinese commerce ministry said the United States and China were making preparations to ensure “positive progress” during the next round of U.S.-Sino trade trades.
But a Bloomberg report that said the United States was unlikely to extend a waiver over Huawei Technologies’ blacklisting helped put a damper on U.S. stocks as such a decision could potentially impact talks with China.
Wall Street briefly turned positive in late trading on remarks by China’s top diplomat that Beijing was willing to buy more U.S. products and that trade talks would yield results if both sides “take more enthusiastic measures” to show goodwill.
Traders closely watched a congressional hearing at which the acting director of U.S. national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, testified about the whistleblower report after refusing for weeks to share the report with Congress.
Concerns about the whistleblower complaint triggered the rally in U.S. Treasury bonds, said Justin Lederer, Treasury analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald in New York.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose 10/32 in price to push their yield down to 1.6973%.
“The transcript of his call released yesterday did not seem to have anything specific that Trump said, ‘do this for that,’” Lederer said.
“The whistleblower complaint looks like there was more to it, but I don’t know. Overall, it’s just the idea that markets don’t like uncertainty,” he added.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.06%, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index of large, mid- and small companies rose 0.61%.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 79.59 points, or 0.3%, to 26,891.12. The S&P 500 lost 7.25 points, or 0.24%, to 2,977.62 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 46.72 points, or 0.58%, to 8,030.66.
Facebook Inc slipped 1.47% as a person familiar with the matter told Reuters that the U.S. Justice Department will open an antitrust investigation of the social media company.
The dollar rose to a three-week high against a basket of currencies, helped by continued tightness in U.S. money markets, while heightened political tensions and a relatively dismal economic outlook weighed on the euro and sterling.
Increased political tensions on both sides of the Atlantic - the unfolding effort by U.S. congressional Democrats to impeach Trump and ongoing uncertainty regarding Britain’s exit from the European Union - was likely to keep the greenback in demand, analysts said.
The dollar index rose 0.16%, with the euro down 0.2% to $1.0919. The Japanese yen weakened 0.06% versus the greenback at 107.86 per dollar.
Crude oil prices pared losses late in the session after the U.S. Department of Defense said it would deploy radar systems, Patriot missiles and about 200 personnel to bolster Saudi Arabia’s defenses after an attack on the kingdom’s oil installations earlier this month.
Brent crude futures settled up 35 cents at $62.74 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 8 cents to settle at $56.41 a barrel.
U.S. gold futures settled up 0.2% at $1,515.20.
Reporting by Herbert Lash, additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Dan Grebler
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