U.S. equities retreated and European stocks fell for a third day on signs the economic recovery is losing momentum. Treasuries gained with gold.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.6% at 10:07 a.m. in New York, after falling from a record yesterday. The Russell 2000 Index of smaller companies retreated 1.3%. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index tumbled 1.2%, bringing its three-day loss to 2.3%. The rate on 10-year Treasuries (CBOT:ZNU14) dropped four basis points to 2.57%, while 3-year yields slid two points to 0.95%. Gold (COMEX:GCN14) advanced 0.7% while Brent crude (NYMEX:SCN14) declined 0.5%.
U.K. manufacturing unexpectedly slumped the most in 16 months in May and German exports contracted more than estimated, data showed today. The U.S. will sell $27 billion of three-year Treasuries (CBOT:ZEU14) today as investors seek clues as to the timing of interest-rate increases in the world’s largest economy, a day before the Federal Reserve will publish minutes of its June meeting. Alcoa Inc. unofficially starts the second-quarter U.S. earnings-reporting season today.
“Stocks have had a good run and people may have gotten a bit carried away, now might be a good time to take some profit,” Peter Dixon, global equities economist at Commerzbank in London, said by phone. “Second-quarter numbers for Germany and perhaps the U.K. may be below where we might have expected them a couple of weeks ago.”
The S&P 500 fell 0.4% yesterday from an all-time high, while the Russell 2000 Index of smaller companies tumbled 1.8%, the most since April 25.
Three rounds of monetary stimulus from the Fed and better-than-forecast corporate earnings have driven the S&P 500 up more than 190% from a low reached in March 2009. The S&P 500 is trading at 16.6 times the projected earnings of its members, above the five-year average valuation of 14.3.
“We’re setting up in wait-and-see mode ahead of earnings,” Chris Gaffney, senior market strategist at EverBank Wealth Management in St. Louis, said in a phone interview. “The equity markets going forward are going to be all about the consumer and whether they’re able to support higher earnings.”
Alcoa, the largest American aluminum producer, will report second-quarter earnings after the close of trading today, unofficially kicking off the season. Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs, Yahoo! Inc. and Johnson & Johnson are among companies reporting financial results in the next week.
Profit at companies in the S&P 500 probably increased 5% in the three months through June, while sales rose 3%, estimates compiled by Bloomberg show.
“Equities are near all-time highs and the air will only get thinner,” said Heinz-Gerd Sonnenschein, a strategist at Deutsche Postbank AG in Bonn, Germany. “We need a strong results season now to support equities because investors will keep wondering when the Fed will hike rates and this can bring some nervousness to the market.”
The $27 billion of Treasury three-year notes to be auctioned today traded at the highest yield since April 2011 on speculation the Fed will raise its short-term interest-rate target next year. Shorter-maturity Treasuries, which are most sensitive to changes in the Fed’s interest rate, underperformed their longer-dated peers.
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