Global stocks, yields slip as investors wait for U.S. stimulus

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global equity markets slipped and bond yields fell on Thursday as investors awaited an agreement on a U.S. aid package to mitigate the fallout from the coronavirus crisis, with poor corporate earnings reports also weighing on European shares.

Safe-haven gold extended its record-breaking run, driven by expectations of more stimulus to counter the pandemic, while the dollar gained after data suggested the U.S. labor market is stalling amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell 249,000 to a seasonally adjusted 1.186 million for the week ended Aug. 1, the Labor Department said, the lowest reading since mid-March.

But more than 1 million initial claims a week is not desirable if you think the economy is recovering, said Yousef Abbasi, global market strategist at StoneX Group Inc in New York. The report, he said, supports the need for stimulus.

“It puts us right where the Fed wants to be, right where you’d want to be, if you’re thinking Washington needs to get stimulus done,” Abbasi said. “You don’t want them to be too encouraged by better data to slow their approach.”

The four principal negotiators in Washington appeared to be near agreement on some topics, but still trillions of dollars apart on major issues, including the size of a federal benefit for tens of millions of unemployed workers.

The relief bill should be more targeted than the first to preserve ammunition if another shutdown should require further aid, former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan told the Reuters Global Markets Forum on Wednesday.

The major U.S. stock indices traded little changed, but bourses in Europe fell as a three-day rally ran out of steam.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.73% and London’s FTSE 100 closed down 1.27%, pulled lower after Glencore scrapped its dividend. Europe’s mining index fell 2.3%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.14%, the S&P 500 lost 0.01% and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.14%.

MSCI’s benchmark for global equity markets fell 0.14% to 563.3.

Treasury yields fell, with the 10-year note sliding to 0.504% at one point, its lowest ever after a big down spike on March 9. The benchmark note last yielded 0.5232%.

The euro climbed to its highest against the dollar since May 2018 before giving up its gains. The euro was up 0.19% to $1.1883.

The weak dollar/strong euro trend will continue into next year, a Reuters poll showed, on expectations the U.S. economic recovery is flagging, especially compared with Europe.

The dollar index fell 0.091%, while the Japanese yen strengthened 0.13% versus the greenback at 105.40 per dollar.

The British pound rose to a five-month high against the dollar after the Bank of England left interest rates at 0.1% and warned about possible risks from taking rates below zero.

Spot gold prices rose $19.7201, or 0.97%, to $2,059.12 an ounce.

Oil prices hovered near five-month highs as support from a weak dollar and falling U.S. crude inventories countered bearish sentiment on fuel demand.

Brent crude futures rose $0.38 to $45.55 a barrel. U.S. crude futures gained $0.20, to $42.39 a barrel.

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