Stocks, yields, oil fall as pandemic fears linger

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A gauge of stock prices across the world was on track on Tuesday for its largest daily drop since early March as concern lingered over rising global COVID-19 cases, while oil prices also fell.

FILE PHOTO: The front facade of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is seen in New York, U.S., February 16, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The dollar index ticked up after earlier 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 travelers.

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

“Rising COVID-19 cases around the world is a risk,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago. “Investors may be taking a little bit of profit as they recognize that a lot of ‘reopening trade’ may already be priced into the markets at this point.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 289.67 points, or 0.85%, to 33,787.96, the S&P 500 lost 30.87 points, or 0.74%, to 4,132.39 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 138.78 points, or 1%, to 13,775.98.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 1.90% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.94%.

Emerging market stocks lost 0.27%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.25% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei lost 1.97%.

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

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 0.169%, with the euro unchanged at $1.2033.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.09% versus the greenback at 108.06 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.3936, down 0.34% on the day.

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

Even though the U.S. economic recovery looks strong, Bethune said, “There’s a repricing of what the international environment is going to look like.”

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last rose 9/32 in price to yield 1.5677%, from 1.599% 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.

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

Spot gold added 0.4% to $1,777.06 an ounce. Silver fell 0.08% to $25.79.

Bitcoin last rose 1.61% to $56,590.56.

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