Global stocks ease from record highs as big tech slides; yields fall
By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of global equity markets pulled back on Wednesday from the record high hit in the previous session, as concerns about a possible rise in inflation tempered optimism around a vaccine-led global economic recovery. Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields reached a one-year high to trade near pre-pandemic levels, before reversing course even as data pointed to a strengthening economy, while the dollar gained ground against a basket of major currencies. Data on Wednesday showed U.S.
By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of global equity markets pulled back on Wednesday from the record high hit in the previous session, as concerns about a possible rise in inflation tempered optimism around a vaccine-led global economic recovery.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields reached a one-year high to trade near pre-pandemic levels, before reversing course even as data pointed to a strengthening economy, while the dollar gained ground against a basket of major currencies.
Data on Wednesday showed U.S. retail sales rebounded sharply in January after households received additional pandemic relief money from the government, suggesting a pick-up in economic activity after the restraints imposed by a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections late last year.
Other data showed inflation pressures building up at the factory gate, with producer prices posting their biggest gain since 2009 in January.
The Fed has pledged to pin interest rates near zero until inflation rises to 2% and looks set to exceed that goal.
That super-easy stance, coupled with the Biden administration's proposed $1.9 trillion spending bill for pandemic relief, has some analysts warning of a coming surge in inflation.
"While the new package may be large, it will add stimulus to an economy still below potential, and the spending will be spread out over a couple of years," said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer, UBS global wealth management in Zurich.
"So while a near-term rise in inflation is likely, we expect the Fed to look past that and keep rates on hold."
The MSCI's global stock index was down 0.78% at 679.74. The index touched a record intra-day high of 687.26 on Tuesday, before erasing gains to snap an 11-day winning streak.
On Wall Street, the Nasdaq fell, weighed down by a slide in big technology firms as investors rotated out of growth stocks, while awaiting the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's January meeting later in the day.
Investors expect central banks to keep monetary policy loose, and minutes later on Wednesday from the U.S Federal Reserve's January meeting are expected to reinforce that view.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 68.01 points, or 0.22%, to 31,454.74, the S&P 500 lost 26.17 points, or 0.67%, to 3,906.42, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 220.45 points, or 1.57%, to 13,827.05.
European shares retreated from near one-year highs as concerns about a possible rise in inflation tempered optimism about a vaccine-led global economic recovery, while Kering tumbled after sales at its Gucci brand fell more than expected.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was 0.79% lower.
The U.S. dollar rose as rising Treasury yields and upbeat economic data helped the greenback gain ground against a basket of world currencies. The dollar index climbed 0.33% to reach a more than 1-week high.
Bitcoin charged to a record high on Wednesday, a day after the cryptocurrency vaulted the $50,000 hurdle, even as analysts warned about the sustainability of such prices amid elevated volatility.
Oil prices rose, underpinned by a major supply disruption in the southern United States this week where a winter storm pounded Texas.
Brent crude was trading at $63.59 a barrel, up 0.38%, after rising to $64.75 a barrel, its highest since January 2020, earlier in the session. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 0.22% to $60.18 a barrel.
Spot gold was down 1.2% at $1,772.77 an ounce.
Copper prices eased as the stronger dollar prompted profit-taking, but low inventories and optimism about demand prospects due to stimulus and growth supported sentiment.
(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
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