Pandemic fears send stocks, oil, yields lower

Traders work at the New York Stock Exchange.On Wall Street, travel stocks weighed on sentiment, with airline and cruise operators falling sharply. — Reuters pic
Traders work at the New York Stock Exchange.On Wall Street, travel stocks weighed on sentiment, with airline and cruise operators falling sharply. — Reuters pic

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NEW YORK, April 21 ― A gauge of stock prices across the world fell yesterday and oil prices also slipped as concern lingered over rising global Covid-19 cases and their effect on the global economic rebound.

The dollar index ticked up after touching its lowest level since March 3 and Treasury yields fell, though they still held above last week's more than one-month lows.

India reported 1,761 deaths from Covid-19 overnight, its highest daily toll, while Canada and the United States extended a land-border closure for non-essential travellers.

On Wall Street, travel stocks weighed on sentiment, with airline and cruise operators falling sharply.

Some of the recent optimism about the leisure industry has waned as the reopening might take a bit longer than initially thought, said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

“We're not out of the woods yet when it comes to the Covid virus and getting to where global economies are reopening,” he said. “Some of that enthusiasm has diminished.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 256.33 points, or 0.75 per cent, to 33,821.3, the S&P 500 lost 28.32 points, or 0.68 per cent, at 4,134.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 128.50 points, or 0.92 per cent, to 13,786.27.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 1.90 per cent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.85 per cent.

Emerging market stocks lost 0.07 per cent. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.08 per cent lower, while Japan's Nikkei lost 1.97 per cent.

After touching its lowest level in nearly seven weeks overnight, the dollar index rose slightly.

The currencies and interest rate markets could be relatively calm for another few weeks as the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank each take their time adjusting their rate policies, said Mazen Issa, senior currency strategist at TD Securities.

“There really isn't a strong catalyst in either direction this month to really break us out of ranges,” Issa said.

The dollar index rose 0.166 per cent, with the euro unchanged at US$1.2033 (RM4.93).

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.08 per cent versus the greenback at 108.09 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at US$1.3939, down 0.31 per cent on the day.

Tufts University economist Brian Bethune said the lower yields stood in contrast with their level close to 1.8 per cent on March 30, reflecting worries that public health gains against the virus have stalled in Brazil, Canada and other countries.

“There's a repricing of what the international environment is going to look like,” even though the US economic recovery looks strong, Bethune said.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last rose 11/32 in price to yield 1.5624 per cent, from 1.599 per cent late on Monday.

Concern over rising Covid-19 cases in India continued to weigh on the oil market.

“Given India's position as a major crude oil importer ... new restrictions would be very bad for the energy complex,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho.

US crude recently fell 1.21 per cent to US$62.44 per barrel and Brent was at US$66.50, down 0.82 per cent on the day.

Spot gold added 0.5 per cent to US$1,778.80 an ounce. Silver gained 0.07 per cent to US$25.83.

Bitcoin last rose 2.4 per cent to US$57,030.36. ― Reuters

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