World stocks sag on pandemic surge, gold gains on safety bid
By Koh Gui Qing NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stock markets mostly retreated on Wednesday as a record number of new coronavirus infections in parts of Europe led investors to shift away from risky assets to traditional safe havens such as gold and the Japanese yen. Concerns that a resurgence in the COVID-19 pandemic could lead governments to again shut down economies spurred profit-taking, particularly after the recent stock rally. Pandemic uncertainties were compounded by news on Tuesday of halts to separate trials for a COVID-19 vaccine and a treatment, tempering a brief stock boost from U.S
By Koh Gui Qing
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stock markets mostly retreated on Wednesday as a record number of new coronavirus infections in parts of Europe led investors to shift away from risky assets to traditional safe havens such as gold and the Japanese yen.
Concerns that a resurgence in the COVID-19 pandemic could lead governments to again shut down economies spurred profit-taking, particularly after the recent stock rally.
Pandemic uncertainties were compounded by news on Tuesday of halts to separate trials for a COVID-19 vaccine and a treatment, tempering a brief stock boost from U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs Group's
Remarks by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that a deal for more fiscal stimulus would not likely be reached before the Nov. 3 elections also capped gains in shares.
Major U.S. stock indexes gave up early gains and the S&P 500 <.SPX> closed down 23 points, or 0.7%, at 3,488.67. The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> dropped 166 points, or 0.6%, to 28,514.00, while the Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> shed 95 points, or 0.8%, at 11,768.73.
"The fear is we are headed back towards a lockdown, not a re-opening of economies," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.
France declared a public health state of emergency on Wednesday, while Italy, Russia and Poland all reported their highest-ever daily tallies of new infections.
With COVID-19 cases surging, some European nations are closing schools, canceling surgeries and enlisting student medics as overwhelmed authorities braced for a repeat of the nightmare scenario seen earlier this year.
The pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> ended barely changed at 370.62, while markets in Frankfurt <.GDAXI> and Paris <.FCHI> were flat and down 0.1%, respectively. London <.FTSE>, buffeted in part by Brexit angst, dropped 0.6%. World stocks <.MIWD00000PUS> slipped 0.3% but stayed within sight of the all-time high struck on Sept. 3.
Asian stocks were also lackluster. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> ended a seven-day rally and slipped 0.11%, a day after hitting a 2-1/2 year high of 588.76. Chinese shares <.CSI300> closed down 0.7%.
The price of gold
Government bonds also benefited from investor caution. German bund yields
The U.S. dollar softened after pulling its best day in three weeks on Tuesday. The dollar index <=USD>, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, fell 0.2% to 93.38.
In a sign that some investors preferred traditionally safer assets for now, the yen
A weaker dollar, which makes oil cheaper for holders of other currencies, supported oil prices.
(Reporting by Koh Gui Qing; Editing by Lisa Shumaker, Leslie Adler and Richard Chang)
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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
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.