World shares off record peak, dollar edges higher

NEW YORK (Reuters) – World shares fell on Friday following Thursday’s record peak on strong U.S. data and earnings, while the dollar was on course to narrowly avoid a fourth straight weekly decline.

FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is pictured outside the New York Stock Exchange amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

MSCI’s broadest gauge of world shares remained on track for its strongest month since November.

The index, which covers 50 markets, shed 0.86%.

U.S. indices fell back after the S&P 500 closed at a record high on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 181.85 points, or 0.53%, to 33,878.51, the S&P 500 lost 27.45 points, or 0.65%, to 4,184.02 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 104.69 points, or 0.74%, to 13,977.85.

Investors have been ebullient in recent weeks although some have questioned whether the rally will run into hurdles after setting such a lightning pace and with so much of the economic recovery and fiscal stimulus splurge already priced in.

With that in mind, traders are starting to focus more on value stocks, said Dennis Dick, a trader at Bright Trading LLC.

“You wonder if this is a period where value is going to continue to outperform growth,” he said. “We didn’t care at all about valuations last year but we’re starting to care about them now.”

Data on Thursday showed U.S. economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, fuelled by massive government aid to households and businesses.

That came against the backdrop of the Federal Reserve’s reassurance on Wednesday that it was not yet time to begin discussing any change in its easy monetary policy.

Data showing a 4.2% rebound in U.S. consumer spending in March, amid a 21.1% surge in income as households received additional COVID-19 relief money from the government, supported the dollar.

The dollar index, a measure of the greenback’s value against a basket of major peers, rose 0.714%.

However, the index was still heading for its worst monthly performance since July 2020.

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U.S. Treasury yields fell slightly on demand for the debt to rebalance investor portfolios for month-end, countering expectations of higher inflation as businesses reopen from COVID-19 related shutdowns.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 1/32 in price to yield 1.6383%, from 1.64% late on Thursday.

With just over a half of S&P 500 companies reporting earnings, about 87% beat market expectations, according to Refinitiv, the highest level in recent years.

“The Federal Reserve continues to support, Biden has this huge stimulus programme as well and the earnings season continues — so far we have seen relatively benign as well as strong earnings,” said Eddie Cheng, head of international multi-asset portfolio management at Wells Fargo Asset Management.

For both the MSCI world index and the S&P 500, analysts are expecting earnings in the next 12 months to recover to above pre-pandemic levels.

European stocks ended lower after dismal economic data stalled optimism about the recovery, but still enjoyed a third straight month of gains.

The pan-regional STOXX 600 index fell 0.3%, hovering below its all-time high and ending the month 1.8% higher.

Euro zone GDP data showed a year-on-year drop of 1.8% in the first quarter, stronger than expectations of a 2% fall, though economists said the bloc was on a recovery path.

“There is increasingly bright light at the end of the tunnel,” Commerzbank analysts said.

“The speed of the vaccinations is picking up and the EU recovery fund is also finally getting off the ground.”

Graphic: Euro zone economic growth and stocks –

New coronavirus infections in India surged to a record, however, and France’s health minister said the dangers of the COVID-19 variant present in India must not be underestimated.

“Risky assets have had quite a few wobbles within the month,” said Cheng.

“We need to get used to the fact that this is not going to be a straight line.”

The euro extended its bull run to a two-month high of $1.2150 in the previous session before dropping 0.80% following the euro zone data.

“The euro is more sensitive to the European economic outlook, than to (what) happens in the U.S.,” said Kit Juckes, head of FX strategy at Societe Generale.

Oil prices fell on concerns about wider lockdowns in India and Brazil.

Brent crude futures settled down $1.30, or 1.9%, at $67.26 a barrel. U.S. crude futures settled down $1.47, or 2.26%, at $63.54 per barrel.

U.S. crude futures settled at $63.58 per barrel, down 2.2%. Brent crude futures settled at

Spot gold dropped 0.2% to $1,767.64 an ounce. U.S. gold futures settled 0.14% lower at $1,767.30 an ounce.

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