Global stocks fell amid losses in industrial metals and disappointing earnings from Bank of America Corp. and others. The euro weakened as Germany’s central bank chief Jens Weidmann reportedly said European policy makers may cut rates if needed.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 1.3% to 1,554.41 at 3:17 p.m. in New York. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index sank 1.5% for a fourth straight decline, its longest losing streak since January, and Germany’s DAX index slid 2.3% to erase its gain for the year after European auto sales reached a 20-year low. The euro weakened 1.1% to $1.3034 and fell against 14 of 16 major peers. Copper sank 3% in London and tin and lead sank more than 2%. Gold for immediate delivery rose 0.5% to $1,374.61 an ounce while futures on the metal declined.
Bank of America led financial shares lower after shortfalls in mortgage banking and trading marred first-quarter results. Industrial metals declined after the International Monetary Fund lowered its forecast for economic growth in China yesterday. The Federal Reserve said the U.S. economic expansion remained “moderate” amid gains in manufacturing, housing and autos that offset weakness in defense-related industries in some regions, according to its Beige Book business survey.
“There’s been a pattern in earnings where you see a slowing down in improvement,” Kevin Caron, a Florham Park, New Jersey-based market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus & Co., which oversees about $130 billion, said by telephone. “Stocks need to pause as investors recognize that forward-looking estimates are too high and need to come down or we need to see a genuine improvement in the economy to justify where stocks are today.”
U.S. equities began short-term declines in April for the last three years. The S&P 500 fell 9.9% between April 2 and June 1 of last year and peaked on April 29, 2011, before a 19% slide ending that October. The index tumbled 16% from a high in April 2010 to July 2 of that year.
The market may be due for a similar pullback this year because its advance since mid-November has been “out of sync” with weak earnings and slower economic growth, UBS AG strategist led by Jonathan Golub wrote in a report.
“While we’re not inclined to invest based on some simple rule or rhyme, those investors who followed the old adage ‘Go Away in May’ have done quite well in each of the past three years,” UBS said in the report dated April 16. “We believe that another spring break is likely to materialize and that now is a good time to begin dialing back on risk.”
The S&P 500 erased most of yesterday’s 1.5% rally and extended its retreat from a record on April 11 to about 2.5%.