Wall Street Lurches Lower as Yields Rise; Europe, China Weaken in Jittery Trade

February 8, 2018

New York (Feb 8)  Wall Street futures weakened again Thursday, as bond yields rose and the dollar strengthened, in a cautious session for global stocks that saw markets fall in Europe and Asia that suggests investors aren't quite ready to return to equities following three days of intense volatility that has rocked markets around the world.

Contracts tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were marked 79 points higher from their Wednesday close, suggesting and opening bell decline of around 195 points for the benchmark, while those linked to the broader S&P 500 were seen 6.25 points, or 0.23%, to the downside. As with previous sessions this week, however, the elevated levels of the CBOE's (VIX.X) index, which traded 1.05% higher in global trading hours in Chicago to 28.04 points, suggest significant swings in futures are still likely prior to -- and after -- the opening bell.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index slipped 0.72% in the opening 45 minutes of trading amid a broader investor caution from this week's market volatility and a host of blue chip corporate earnings and the February policy meeting of the Bank of England at noon London time. Regional stocks did, however, find from weakness in both the pound and the euro, both of which fell against the U.S. dollar after Senate leaders reached a tentative deal to fund the U.S. government for a further two years that would include an extra $300 million in spending.

The potential increase to the country's already swelling deficit, along with increasing signals of faster inflation in the world's biggest economy, has U.S. Treasury yields on the rise, with benchmark 10-year notes hitting 2.86% in overnight Asia trade. That also helped the dollar index, a measure of the greenback's strength against a basket of six global currencies, rise 0.85% from yesterday's early session lows to trade at 90.45 in early European dealing, pushing the euro to 1.2238 and the pound to 1.3894.

Overnight in Asia, stocks in Japan benefited from a stronger dollar as exporters gained to helped the benchmark rise 1.18% by the end of the session to close at 21, 890.86 points. Regional stocks were strong, as well, with the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index gaining 0.08% even as trade data from China -- and the yuan's slide -- held back advances for China stocks.

China's benchmark stock index slumped to a six month Thursday, while the yuan fell the most in more than two years, after the world's second largest economy saw its global trade surplus shirk amid a massive surge in imports last month.

China's customs office said the country's January trade surplus narrowed to just over $20 billion, around half of what economists had anticipated, thanks in part to a $36.9% surge in imports linked to a stronger yuan. China's U.S. trade surplus was also trimmed to around $21.85 billion, the customs office said, even as crude and raw commodity imports hit record highs. Overall exports did rise by 11%, the data indicated, but the overarching signal from the report suggests President Xi Jinping's efforts to tame reckless lending and slow pollution in the country's major cities could be altering the way its economy grows.

China's Shanghai Composite was marked 1.42% low at 3,262.15 points while the yuan ended at 6.3260 against the dollar, down from 6.2596 on the previous session.

Global oil prices extended declines from yesterday's one-month lows amid the dollar's rebound, and despite China data showing imports rose to a record 40.64 million barrels in January, or 9.57 million per day, as the economy continues to hum.

Brent crude contracts for April delivery were marked 15 cents lower at $65.11 per barrel while WTI contracts for the same months were seen around 0.66% lower at $61.38 per barrel.


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