Sunday, February 23, 2020

Stocks stumble amid impeachment

Dec 19. 2019
File Photo /GettyImages
File Photo /GettyImages
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By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Claire Ballentine, Vildana Hajric

U.S. stocks receded just before the closing bell as investors digested a flurry of corporate news and Congress debated the impeachment of Donald Trump. Treasuries slipped and the British pound weakened.

The S&P 500 index fell Wednesday -- after spending most of the day higher -- snapping a five-session streak of gains. Tech shares stumbled toward the end of regular trading as Apple Inc. slid from the day's highs. FedEx Corp. plunged after a forecast cut. With few big economic headlines imminent, and much of the U.S. focused on the impeachment vote, investors may take a wait-and-see stance as the holidays near.

"We think it's largely going to be a non-event," Candice Bangsund, a vice president and portfolio manager at Fiera Capital, said of the impeachment. "It's going to be the story likely for the next two to three weeks and then it will be ancient history and we'll be moving on to the elections, to trade negotiations."

With global stocks close to all-time highs and the U.S.-China trade accord announced Friday yet to be signed, traders are finding few reasons to bid prices higher. The outlook for America's monetary policy remains steady -- two Federal Reserve policy makers reiterated that interest rates are on hold -- yet the miserable results from FedEx were a reminder of the headwinds to growth.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed lower as national benchmarks traded mixed, with Germany's gauge underperforming even as data showed business expectations improved for a third month.

PSA Group rose and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV was steady as they agreed to combine in a deal to create the world's fourth-biggest auto manufacturer. Bang & Olufsen A/S plunged after the luxury TV and stereo maker issued its fourth profit warning in a year. The pound extended its losses after tumbling Tuesday on renewed concern that a no-deal Brexit is possible. The dollar strengthened against most of its G-10 peers.

Earlier in Asia, equities were mixed, with shares falling in Tokyo but rising in Hong Kong and India. The yuan was steady offshore after China's central bank injected liquidity into the financial system.

Meanwhile, West Texas crude rebounded, and energy shares rose, after a bullish U.S. inventory report.

Here are some key events to watch for this week:

--Policy decisions are due Thursday from the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England.

--Revised U.S. GDP data are due Friday.

--Friday also brings quadruple witching in the U.S., the simultaneous expiration date of stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and single stock futures. Expect elevated trading volume, particularly in the last hour of trading.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

-The S&P 500 index was little changed at 3,191.14 as of 4:05 p.m. New York time, the first retreat in more than a week and the largest fall in a week.

-The Stoxx Europe 600 index declined 0.1% to 414.38.

-The U.K.'s FTSE 100 index advanced 0.2% to 7,540.75, hitting the highest in almost 20 weeks with its sixth consecutive advance.

-Germany's DAX index decreased 0.5% to 13,222.16.

-The MSCI Emerging Market index jumped 0.6% to 1,108.81, hitting the highest in 18 months with its sixth consecutive advance.

Currencies

-The Bloomberg Dollar Spot index gained 0.1% to 1,195.87, the highest in a week.

-The euro declined 0.3% to $1.1118, the weakest in a week on the largest drop in more than a week.

-The British pound decreased 0.3% to $1.3086, the weakest in two weeks.

-The Japanese yen depreciated 0.1% to 109.57 per dollar, the weakest in almost seven months.

Bonds

-The yield on 10-year Treasuries gained four basis points to 1.92%, the highest in five weeks.

-Germany's 10-year yield advanced five basis points to -0.25%, the highest in five weeks.

-Britain's 10-year yield increased one basis point to 0.775%.

Commodities

-West Texas Intermediate crude gained 0.1% to $60.97 a barrel, hitting the highest in three months with its fifth consecutive advance.

-Gold weakened 0.1% to $1,475.54 an ounce.

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