Stocks lose ground, Canadian dollar weakens

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of global stocks lost ground for a third straight session on Wednesday, unable to build momentum from a jump in Chinese equities, while the Canadian dollar weakened after a dovish turn by the Bank of Canada.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Major U.S. indexes once again struggled to gain ground, with the S&P 500 appearing to have met a strong resistance point around the 2,800 level. After a strong start to the year, a lack of developments in trade negotiations between the United States and China has provided little incentive for investors to push equities higher.

“We’re just kind of treading water, waiting for confirmation one way or the other,” said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in New York. “Just looking for a resolution, we have posturing not policy, so clarity is what is expected at these levels.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 132.22 points, or 0.51 percent, to 25,674.41, the S&P 500 lost 18.16 points, or 0.65 percent, to 2,771.49 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 70.44 points, or 0.93 percent, to 7,505.92.

The S&P 500 fell for a third straight session and sixth in the last seven trading days.

Even with little on the trade front, Chinese shares surged to a nine-month high, bolstered by hopes of more stimulus measures from Beijing after China’s state planner said the government would implement measures to further boost domestic consumption to counter the impact of a slowing economy.

European shares closed just below the unchanged mark, as weak results from the troubled auto sector weighed and investor confidence in a rally that has sent stocks shooting up this year showed signs of fraying.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.04 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.38 percent.

In the latest sign of global central bank dovishness, the Bank of Canada held interest rates steady as expected on Wednesday amid a slowing economy and said there was “increased uncertainty” around the timing of future rate increases.

That in turned pushed the Canadian dollar to its lowest in about two months versus the greenback.

The dollar index fell 0.01 percent, with the euro up 0.04 percent to $1.1311.

The Canadian dollar fell 0.64 percent versus the greenback to 1.34 per dollar.

Despite the dovish lean by central banks, the Federal Reserve reported the U.S. economy continued growing in the first weeks of 2019 amid a still tight labor market in the face of a 35-day partial federal government shutdown and slowing global growth.

U.S. oil prices were lower and Brent prices edged up after data from the Energy Information Administration showed an unexpectedly sharp build in U.S. crude inventories, but a third weekly drawdown in gasoline stocks kept losses at bay.

U.S. crude settled down 0.6 percent at $56.22 per barrel and Brent was last at $65.99.

Graphic - Global assets in 2019:

Graphic - Global currencies vs. dollar:

Graphic - MSCI All Country Wolrd Index Market Cap:

Additional reporting by Medha Singh and Amy Caren Daniel; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and James Dalgleish