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World stocks poised for weekly loss; dollar firms again

Worries about global growth, trade tensions persist

By Reuters - Feb 09,2019 - Last updated at Feb 09,2019

A woman uses a mobile device near a board showing currency exchange rates of the US dollar, euro and the British pound against the rouble in Moscow, Russia, on January 21, 2016 (Reuters file photo)

By Lewis Krauskopf

NEW YORK — World stocks fell for a third straight day on Friday on pessimism about global economic growth and trade tensions, putting them on track for their first weekly drop this year, while the US dollar was on track for its biggest weekly gain since August.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.60 per cent on the day, and was set to fall for the week following six consecutive weekly increases.

Investors were digesting economic and trade developments from Thursday, when the European Commission sharply cut its forecast for eurozone growth this year and next and President Donald Trump said he did not plan to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping before a March 1 deadline to achieve a trade deal. 

Thursday's trade developments "took off the table what the market was probably starting to price in, which was a resolution by March 1", said Anthony Saglimbene, global market strategist at Ameriprise Financial in Troy, Michigan. "It just adds to the fact that investors want some of these trade tensions off the front pages, and it doesn't look like we are going to get that."

Stocks pared some losses after a White House spokeswoman said US-China trade talks would resume next week in Beijing.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 155.79 points, or 0.62 per cent, to 25,013.74, the S&P 500 lost 9.31 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 2,696.74, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 14.80 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 7,273.55.

Adding to the dour mood, analysts now expect first-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies to decline 0.1 per cent from a year earlier, which would be the first such quarterly profit decline since 2016, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

"The sentiment continues to be investor anxiety about US -China trade relations, the slowing global growth, and I think this week what is starting to really creep into investors' anxiety is around corporate earnings," said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisers in Boston.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.56 per cent.

The dollar edged higher against a basket of currencies, keeping it on track for its strongest weekly gain in six months, as traders piled into the greenback in a safe-haven move on worries about a weakening global economy.

The dollar index rose 0.14 per cent, with the euro down 0.16 per cent to $1.1322.

"The rally that propelled the dollar broadly higher last year has enjoyed renewed life with US growth remaining solid while peers abroad lose momentum," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington.

US Treasury yields fell for a fourth straight session.

Benchmark US 10-year notes last rose 6/32 in price to yield 2.6339 per cent, from 2.654 per cent late on Thursday.

Oil prices were little changed on the day, but were heading for a weekly loss on renewed concerns about slowing global demand.

US crude rose 0.15 per cent to $52.72 per barrel and Brent was last at $62.07, up 0.71 per cent on the day.

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