By Sinéad Carew and Harry Robertson
NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) -MSCI’s global equity index fell on Monday and U.S. Treasury yields fell while investors digested weak U.S. housing data and waited for key inflation readings later in the week.
Oil prices also fell, with the Brent settling under $80 a barrel, as investors awaited this week’s OPEC+ meeting and expected curbs on supplies into 2024.
The U.S. dollar slid against most major currencies, weighed down by expectations that the Federal Reserve is done cutting interest rates and could start cutting them by the first half of next year.
In precious metals, gold hit a six-month high with a boost from the softer dollar and expectations for a pause in Fed tightening.
Meanwhile, the latest data showed that sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell more than expected in October, likely as higher mortgage rates reduced affordability, but the housing segment remains supported by a shortage of previously owned properties on the market.
“A lot of investors are starting to look out into next year. There’s a growing sense the economy is slowing, that price growth will likely continue to fall, that profit growth will likely fall,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital, in Chicago.
Ablin saw Monday’s weak home sales data aligning with concerns about a slowing economy.
And he noted deep discounts in stores on Black Friday, which kick-offs holiday shopping, saying “investors are bracing for lower discretionary spending.”
Investors were also looking ahead to Thursday’s release of the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation and euro zone consumer inflation figures, to potentially give markets direction.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 56.68 points, or 0.16%, to 35,333.47, the S&P 500 lost 8.91 points, or 0.20%, to 4,550.43 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 9.83 points, or 0.07%, to 14,241.02.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.34% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.19% on the day after rising for four weeks in a row.
Stock indexes around the world have gained ground recently as bond yields dropped, with cooling inflation in developed economies boosting investors’ expectations that central banks are finished raising interest rates and might soon cut them.
Still, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said the European Central Bank’s fight to contain price growth was not yet done as wage growth was still strong and the outlook was uncertain, but she did point to easing euro zone inflation pressure.
In U.S. Treasuries, benchmark 10-year notes fell steadily during the day and were last down 9.9 basis points to 4.385%, from 4.484% late on Friday.
“It’s the economic data and central bank policy and whatever information comes out within those two areas, those are going to be the areas that are going to move Treasury yields up or down at this point,” said Jim Barnes, director of fixed income at Bryn Mawr Trust in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.
The U.S. dollar slid against most major currencies and was on track for a monthly decline of more than 3%, which would be its biggest monthly drop in a year.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket for major currencies, fell 0.213%, with the euro up 0.12% to $1.0952.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.55% versus the greenback at 148.63 per dollar, while sterling was last trading at $1.2625, up 0.14% on the day.
Oil futures lost ground ahead of an OPEC+ meeting on Thursday where member countries will try to agree on supply curbs into 2024. The meeting was originally slated for Sunday but postponed as producers struggled to agree. [O/R]
U.S. crude settled down 0.9% at $74.86 per barrel and Brent fell 0.7% to end at $79.98.
Along with the weaker dollar, investor worries about the Israel-Hamas conflict have boosted gold prices.
Spot gold added 0.6% to $2,013.79 an ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 0.5% to $2,011.80 an ounce.
(Reporting by Sinéad Carew and Chuck Mikolazczak in New York, in New York, Harry Robertson in London, Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Stephen Coates, Ed Osmond, Chizu Nomiyama, Christina Fincher and Marguerita Choy)