Stocks slip as ECB gets cold feet on QE, gold rebounds
U.S. stocks fell as International Business Machines Corp.’s forecast trailed estimates, while European equities and bonds dropped after a central bank official cooled speculation on expanding stimulus. The yen rose with gold.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.3% at 9:31 a.m. in New York after two days of gains. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slid 0.5% to halt a four-day rally. The yield on 10-year German bunds jumped four basis points to 0.49%. The yen climbed 1.3% to 117.31 versus the dollar as the Bank of Japan kept asset purchases steady and cut its inflation forecast. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index slipped 0.7%. Gold topped $1,300 for the first time in five months.
IBM dropped 2.7% as a disappointing forecast overshadowed profit that topped estimates. Data showed U.S. housing starts rose more than forecast in December while permits declined. European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said investors should not get carried away by one policy meeting, damping speculation for a large-scale bond-buying program. The Bank of Japan left its stimulus program little changed a day before its European counterpart is expected to expand its own bond buying program.
“The market is a bit unsure about how to trade QE,” said Lyn Graham-Taylor, a fixed-income strategist at Rabobank International in London. “This is a case of bunds selling off on the risk of them disappointing tomorrow. Anything less than €550 billion, we have flagged as disappointing, though arguably this number has now shifted a little bit higher.”
Speculation that ECB President Mario Draghi will broaden asset purchases has increased after the Swiss National Bank scrapped a cap on the franc last week and Denmark’s central bank cut its deposit rates to minus 0.2%. Nowotny said today that “one should not get overexcited.”
The yield on 10-year French notes rose five basis points to 0.70% and the rate on Italian notes added seven basis points to 1.74%. The Treasury yield was little changed at 1.78%. Treasuries have been supported as weakness in Europe, Japan and China has dimmed the outlook for the world economy.
A four-day rally in the Stoxx 600 had sent it to its highest level since January 2008.
U.S. investors are weighing earnings reports, as companies from EBay Inc. to American Express Co. report financial results today. Profit at S&P 500 companies probably climbed 0.8% in the final three months of 2014, analysts predicted, down from an October estimate of 8.1%.