Worries Over Economic Recovery Shake World Stocks, Wall Street
Accommodative central bank policies and optimism about reopening economies have pushed equities to record levels but concerns are growing about the impact of rising coronavirus infections due to the Delta variant.
Markets are also still assessing data from last week which showed the U.S. economy created the fewest jobs in seven months in August, and wondering how the U.S. central bank will respond.
The Fed should move forward with a plan to taper its massive asset purchase programme despite the slowdown in job growth, St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard said in an interview with the Financial Times on Wednesday.
“Everything is tapering, tapering, tapering. We are looking at every single central bank – when is the next one?” said Eddie Cheng, head of international multi-asset portfolio management at Wells Fargo Asset Management, though he added: “The Delta variant impact is still running like a wild card”.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 76.74 points, or 0.22 percent, to 35,023.26, the S&P 500 lost 7.8 points, or 0.17 percent, to 4,512.23 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 87.96 points, or 0.57 percent, to 15,286.37 by 2:17 p.m. EST (18:17 GMT).
MSCI’s world equity index fell 0.41% by after seven consecutive days of gains.
European stocks fell 1% and hit their lowest in nearly three weeks. Britain’s FTSE 100 struck two-week lows, down 0.75%.
“September is the month investors confront reality,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia, pointing to uncertainty over the Fed’s tapering plans and inflation fears as a reason investors are taking profits or reallocating funds.
The coronavirus Delta variant and concerns over the economic recovery were also weighing.
“What is likely ahead of us is a continued but temporary deceleration of economic activity of one to three months which likely started in August,” said Sebastien Galy, senior macro strategist at Nordea Asset Management.
Federal official Robert Kaplan was due to speak later on Wednesday.
In Europe, markets are focused on whether the European Central Bank will this week begin to scale back its bond purchase programme.
The dollar paired some gains after jumping to a one-week high against a basket of other major currencies. It also hit a one-week peak against the the single currency and was trading at $1.1826.
The dollar’s strength offset investors’ risk aversion to pressure bullion to a two-week low. Spot gold prices fell 0.1%.
Longer-dated U.S. government bond yields slipped on Wednesday coming off a two-day climb after labor market data and ahead of an auction by the Treasury in 10-year notes. Yields on 10-year Treasury notes fell to 1.3495%, retreating from this week’s eight-week highs.
Germany’s 10-year Bund yield also hit eight-week highs before edging lower to -0.32% .
“Fears that central banks might start to taper their asset purchases seems to have knocked away a little confidence, particularly given tomorrow’s ECB decision where many expect we’ll begin to see the start of that process, not least with inflation there running at its highest levels in almost a decade,” Deutsche Bank analysts said in a note.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.77%, stemming an eight-session string of gains.
Chinese blue chips dropped 0.41%, weighed down by recent soft data in the world’s second-biggest economy.
But Japan’s Nikkei jumped 0.89% and hit a five-month high, helped by revised gross domestic product growth figures beating expectations.
Bitcoin continued its rout, down 1.1%.
Shares of Coinbase Global Inc dropped over 2% after the firm revealed it has received a legal notice from the top U.S. markets regulator.
U.S. crude oil jumped 1.39% to $69.32 a barrel and Brent crude rose 1.4% to $72.69 per barrel, with prices supported by a slow restart to production in the Gulf of Mexico after Hurricane Ida hit the region.
For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.
(Additional reporting by Alun John in Hong Kong; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell & Shri Navaratnam, Editing by William Maclean and Nick Tattersall)