Global stocks slip outside U.S.

July 6, 2016 04:24 PM

U.S. stocks reversed early losses today, but fears of instability in the European Union and prolonged global stagnation sent bourses in most parts of the world lower as Britain's pound sank below $1.30 for the first time in more than three decades.

Wall Street turned upward to show modest gains after the release of positive U.S. economic data and a turn higher in crude oil prices.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 72.84 points, or 0.41%, to 17,913.46, the S&P 500 gained 9.82 points, or 0.47%, to 2,098.37 and the Nasdaq Composite added 34.31 points, or 0.71%, to 4,857.21.

The rise in U.S. stocks countered losses in Europe, emerging markets and most of Asia, which all fell more than 1%, as international investors favored safe-haven plays over riskier assets such as stocks.

MSCI's all-world stock index fell 0.4%.

The release of minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's June meeting had little impact as they largely showed officials at the U.S. central bank were concerned about the potential impact of the upcoming "Brexit" vote, which subsequently erased $3 trillion from global equities over two days.

U.S. Treasury yields also rose after Institute for Supply Management data showed growth in the U.S. service sector rose in June at the fastest pace in seven months.

Longer-dated Treasury yields earlier hit record lows, with 10-year U.S. Treasury yields  and 30-year yields falling to all-time lows of 1.321% and 2.098% respectively. 

"Service sector numbers...looked pretty healthy," said Kathy Jones, chief fixed income strategist at Charles Schwab in New York. "It doesn’t turn around the whole situation, but as European markets closed there was less focus on that and the focus is back on the U.S., and you say, ‘Well, our numbers are pretty good. We’re still OK.'"

Other safe havens largely held their gains with gold rising to a more than two-year high and the yen soaring to a three-and-a-half year high against the British pound, and to two-week peaks versus the dollar and euro.

Henderson Global, Columbia Threadneedle and UK Canada Life today became the latest British commercial property funds to suspend trading, joining three others worth about 10 billion pounds, in the first sign of markets seizing up since Britain's vote to exit the EU

Money markets are pricing in a good chance of a cut in one or more of the Bank of England's official interest rates to zero within the next three months. Sterling fell as low as $1.2798 in Asian trading before recovering to $1.2916. 

China, which has been steadily weakening the yuan while eyes are fixed on Europe, allowed its currency to fall to another five-and-a-half year low against the dollar overnight.

The easing has helped China's bourses remain in positive territory with the Shanghai Composite Index adding 0.4% for a fourth straight day of gains and the blue-chip CSI300 index rising 0.3%, its eighth straight rise.

Crude oil prices rose after a two-day decline lured buyers back. Brent crude futures were up 1.4% to $48.63 a barrel. U.S. crude futures rose 1.5% to $47.28.

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