Global shares fall, battered pound fights back, dollar firm

October 12, 2016 09:26 AM

Shares fell worldwide towards three-week lows on Wednesday after a dour start to the U.S. earnings season, while Britain's battered currency rose for the first time in five days. 

Sterling rose more than 1% against the Euro/U.S. dollar currency pair after British Prime Minister Theresa May offered to allow lawmakers some scrutiny of the process of leaving the European Union, although she ruled out a vote in parliament on whether to trigger the formal Brexit procedure.

The pound has taken a beating, tumbling to 31-year lows last week, on fears that Britain is heading for a "hard Brexit" that would see it leave the EU single market when it quits the bloc.

Expectations that U.S. interest rates will rise in December remained in focus with the minutes of the Federal Reserve's September meeting due for release later in the day.

The U.S. Dollar Index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, hit a seven-month high of 97.817, its highest since early March.

U.S. stock futures dropped. The financial market shares fell on Tuesday following disappointing earnings reports from aluminum producer Alcoa and diagnostics test maker Illumina.

"The primary concern for U.S. investors now is that we're going to get another disappointing earnings season," said Michael Hewson, chief markets analyst at CMC Markets. 

"The strong dollar is going to impact that more and if the Fed does raise rates, then ultimately, what does that mean for profits in 2017?"

In Europe, Germany's DAX, France's CAC and Britain's FTSE all nudged into negative territory.

Sweden's Ericsson led the region's technology stocks to a one month-low, after the company warned that a downturn in its mobile broadband business had accelerated and its third-quarter profit would be "significantly lower" than expected. Its shares slumped more than 15%.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell to three-week lows, leaving shares hovering near three-week lows touched on Tuesday.



With focus turning to the release of the Fed's latest minutes and prospects for a December rate rise, the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield rose to 1.787%, its highest since June.

The euro fell to an 11-week low of around $1.1010 against a firmer dollar. The dollar also gained against the yen. 

Investors are increasingly convinced the Fed will raise interest rates in December, after avoiding an increase at its next meeting, scheduled for less than a week before the U.S. presidential election.

U.S. interest rate futures are pricing in about a 75% chance rates will rise by December, little changed over the past couple of days.

"Current sentiment is such that markets will look at the minutes for a reason not to expect a rate hike in December," Hermes group chief economist Neil Williams said.

Concerns about higher U.S. rates and dollar strength helped push MSCI's emerging equity index to nearly two-week lows. 

Elsewhere, oil prices rose, drawing support from record Indian crude imports and upcoming talks between OPEC producers and other oil exporters on curbing output to end a glut in the global market. Brent crude futures were up 26 cents at $52.67 a barrel.

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