Dollar remains strong as markets wait on tech

Gold prices halted a plunge of more than 4% on Tuesday but remained under pressure, as the dollar held near three-month highs on expectations of rising interest rates.

In Europe, bond and stock prices were little changed as Greece's financial woes faded and investors turned their attention to company earnings.

Wall Street was set to open higher, with investors waiting to see how profits at tech companies like Apple and Microsoft were affected by a strong dollar.

"Greece may be easing us into the quieter summer months. However, there is still plenty to focus on in the markets, with commodities grabbing plenty of attention," said Craig Erlam, a senior market analyst at Oanda.

"Meanwhile, earnings season is also well underway and could prove key in determining whether we will see rate hikes this year and companies attempt to weather the strong dollar storm."

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.3% at 1,609.57 points after rising to a six-week high in the previous session.

Healthcare led the market lower after Novartis reported quarterly income below analysts' expectations.

"There's not a lot of conviction in the move higher. Maybe it's because we've had such a rapid rally since the start of July that the bulls need a breather, or that equities valuations are starting to look a little toppy," Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at Capital Spreads, said in a note.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was last up about 0.5%, after wavering between positive and negative territory for much of early trading.

China stocks extended gains as government rescue measures appeared to restore some stability to trading.

Japan's Nikkei ended up 0.9% as markets reopened after a public holiday on Monday, reaching nearly four-week highs on growing expectations for strong first-quarter earnings.

Spot gold added more than 1% on the day to $1,107.76 an ounce, recovering after a sharp slump. Still, returns on gold have fallen more than 40% over the last four years.

Demand for safe havens such as gold have waned as Greece this week paid off its creditors, reopened its banks and submitted legislation needed to start talks on a multi-billion euro rescue package.

Bonds, another asset which investors flock to in times of distress, were also out of vogue. Yields on the 10-year German benchmark—which move inversely to prices—edged up 1 basis point to 0.73%.

Investors also had less incentive to hold gold as the dollar strengthened before an expected increase in U.S. interest rates later this year, the first in nearly a decade.

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Monday there was a better than 50% chance that the U.S. central bank would raise interest rates in September.

The dollar jumped to its highest since April 23 against a basket of major currencies in early European trading, traded mixed as the day developed.

The euro edged up on the day to $1.0875, after dipping to its lowest since mid-April overnight.

The dollar was up against the yen to buy 124.36, after earlier touching a six-week peak of 124.48 yen.

In commodities, oil prices steadied as the U.S. dollar edged off highs, but remain set for their biggest monthly drop since March in the face of a global supply glut.

Brent September crude futures were down 6 cents at $56.59 a barrel. U.S. August crude futures, set to expire on Tuesday, fell 2 cents to $50.13.

About the Author
John Geddie is president of Foresight Publishing, a fast-growing company offering content-driven newsletter and marketing services specifically for the insurance industry. He can be reached at 866-850-7526, ext.