NEW YORK U.S. stocks reversed early losses on Wednesday 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 oil prices.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 72.84 points, or 0.41 percent, to 17,913.46, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 9.82 points, or 0.47 percent, to 2,098.37 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 34.31 points, or 0.71 percent, to 4,857.21.
The rise in U.S. stocks countered losses in Europe .FTEU3, emerging markets .MSCIEF and most of Asia .MIAPJ0000PUS, which all fell more than 1 percent, as international investors favored safe-haven plays over riskier assets such as stocks.
MSCI's all-world stock index .MIWD00000PUS fell 0.4 percent.
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 US10YT=RR and 30-year yields US30YT=RR falling to all-time lows of 1.321 percent and 2.098 percent respectively. [US/]
"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 XAU= rising to a more than two-year high and the yen soaring to a 3-1/2-year high against the British pound GBPJPY=, and to two-week peaks versus the dollar JPY= and euro EURJPY=.
Henderson Global, Columbia Threadneedle and UK Canada Life on Wednesday 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 GBP=D4 fell as low as $1.2798 in Asian trading before recovering to $1.2916.
China, which has been steadily weakening the yuan CNY= while eyes are fixed on Europe, allowed its currency to fall to another 5-1/2-year low against the dollar overnight.
The easing has helped China's bourses remain in positive territory with the Shanghai Composite Index .SSEC adding 0.4 percent for a fourth straight day of gains and the blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 rising 0.3 percent, its eighth straight rise.
Oil prices rose after a two-day decline lured buyers back. Brent crude futures LCOc1 were up 1.4 percent to $48.63 a barrel. U.S. crude futures CLc1 rose 1.5 percent to $47.28.
(Reporting by Dion Rabouin; Additional reporting by Patrick Graham in London; Editing by James Dalgleish)
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