Stocks retreat after rally with jobs data eyed, yields climb

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A gauge of global stocks was poised to snap a four-session winning streak on Monday while Treasury yields rose as investors awaited U.S. labor market data to indicate the likely route of the Federal Reserve’s rate policy.

Softening economic data and recent comments from Fed officials, including Chair Jerome Powell, have heightened expectations that the U.S. central bank has ended its interest-rate-hiking cycle and will begin to cut rates as soon as March. The next Fed policy meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec. 12-13.

Expectations for a U.S. rate cut of at least 25 basis points (bps) in March are nearly 60%, according to CME’s FedWatch Tool, up from about 22% a week ago.

The increasing belief that the Fed will ease policy has helped fuel a strong rally in U.S. stocks. Each of the three major indexes on Wall Street capped a fifth straight week of gains on Friday, with the benchmark S&P index notching its highest close of the year.

“There is a lot of chop around here that is not necessarily meaningful,” said Tom Martin, a senior portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments in Atlanta.

“We have a really important Fed meeting coming up, and what makes it important is that all of a sudden, the market has decided that they’re going to cut early next year.”

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 41.06 points, or 0.11%, to 36,204.44, the S&P 500 lost 24.85 points, or 0.54%, to 4,569.78 and the lost 119.54 points, or 0.84%, to 14,185.49.

U.S. labor market data will kick off on Wednesday with the ADP National Employment Report on the private sector and culminate on Friday with the government’s wider payrolls report.

Data on Monday showed new orders for U.S.-made goods fell more than expected in October, marking the biggest monthly drop in roughly three and a half years.

U.S. Treasury yields moved higher, with the benchmark 10-year yield moving off three-month lows to stand 4 basis points higher at 4.261%. The two-year U.S. Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, rose 7 basis points to 4.633%.

Stocks in Europe also edged lower, with the pan-European STOXX 600 index closing down 0.09% after initial gains pushed it to a four-month high. MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe was down 0.43% after hitting its highest level since Aug. 2 earlier in the day.

Attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea on Sunday risked increasing investor worries about the potential for a widening of the war between Israel and Hamas, potentially complicating the outlook for a rally that saw U.S. stocks crest a fresh closing high for the year last week.

Crude prices were lower as investor skepticism over the latest OPEC+ decision on supply cuts and uncertainty surrounding global fuel demand outweighed the risk of supply disruptions from the Middle East conflict.

U.S. crude settled down 1.39% to $73.04 a barrel. Brent crude ended at $78.03 per barrel, down 1.08%.

The dollar rebounded, bouncing after three straight weeks of declines. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six currencies, gained 0.5%, to 103.62. The euro was down 0.42% at $1.0835.

The bounce in the dollar weighed on gold, which pulled back after hitting a record high of $2,135.40 per ounce and was last down 2.05% to $2,028.42 an ounce.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; additional reporting by Amruta Khandekar, Shristi Achar A in Bengaluru and Noel Randewich in San Francisco; editing by Christina Fincher and Leslie Adler and Marguerita Choy)