Dow Today – Stocks fall, dollar rises as Omicron fears, central bank decisions loom
By Elizabeth Dilts Marshall
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Global shares fell on Tuesday and the U.S. dollar rose to a near one-week high as investors nervously eyed the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant and awaited numerous central bank decisions due this week.
Wall Street was lower and U.S. treasuries rose across the curve after U.S. producer prices increased by more than expected in November, another data point to support views that inflation could remain uncomfortably high for some time.
Major central banks meet this week, starting with the U.S. Federal Reserve on Tuesday, to assess the risks posed by the Omicron variant and to decide how and when to reduce pandemic-related emergency measures put in place early last year.
Expectations are that the Fed will announce a faster taper pace when its meeting concludes on Wednesday. The Fed is facing inflation that is running at more than twice its formal 2% target, and a low unemployment rate and rising wages, which may signal full employment is near.
While some investors are sitting on the sidelines, reluctant to take on new positions before year-end, others continue to be happy to “buy the dip,” a strategy that has been successful throughout 2021’s strong rally, said Benjamin Bowler, equity analyst at Bank of America.
“Markets can continue to run while they think there is solid ground beneath them, and only when they look down does gravity kick in,” Bowler wrote in a note Tuesday. “(They) may convince themselves for some time that a less supportive Fed won’t derail the rally.”
Bowler said this market rally, which is largely fueled by the Fed’s stimulative bond-buying policy, is in real risk, especially because current inflation levels could limit what the Fed can do.
By 11:30 a.m. EST (1630 GMT), MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.93%, and the pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.74%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 94.27 points, or 0.26%, to 35,556.68, the S&P 500 lost 48.83 points, or 1.05%, to 4,620.14 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 269.75 points, or 1.75%, to 15,143.53.
The fast-spreading Omicron variant tamped down the mood on Wall Street after the S&P index last week hit an all-time closing high.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.73%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.83% lower, after the Asian Development Bank (ADB) trimmed its growth forecast for developing Asia, reflecting risks brought on by the new virus variant..
China’s CSI300 index dropped 0.67%, after health authorities in Tianjin detected the country’s first Omicron case.
The dollar index rose 0.115%, with the euro down 0.13% to $1.1268. The euro is seen as vulnerable given expectations that the Fed will tighten policy faster than the ECB.
The yield on 10-year Treasury notes was up 3.8 basis points to 1.462%.
The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond was up 5 basis points to 1.863%.
U.S. crude recently fell 1.28% to $70.38 per barrel and Brent was at $73.45, down 1.26% on the day. Oil prices remain way off levels above $85 a barrel seen in mid-October before the variant was discovered.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts Marshall in New York; Additional reporting by Tommy Wilkes in London; Editing by Will Dunham)