- Claude Monet (French, Paris 1840–1926 Giverny), 1869, oil on canvas.
4:00 pm -ish
In European Equity Markets
The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 1.26 percent by the close, with every sector posting sharp losses. During the course of the session, European stocks hit a two-week low, as the volatility seen during February showed signs of seeping into March.
The German DAX fell 1.97 percent by the close, while France’s CAC 40 slipped 1.09 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 declined 0.78 percent.
Media stocks were some of the top losers, off over 2 percent as a sector following earnings news. Shares of WPP fell as much as 14 percent in trade before closing down 8.2 percent. This comes after the advertising giant announced lower net sales in 2018 and a cautious outlook for 2018. Other sectors to post sharp losses included basic resources, chemicals, and technology.
In Currency Markets
The US dollar rose to a six-week high on Thursday after a set of solid U.S. economic data further stoked expectations that the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates as many as four times this year. The greenback has gained momentum this week following the first public testimony of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, who struck an upbeat note on the U.S. economy. A U.S. manufacturing index for February was also stronger than expected. The index was last up 0.3 percent at 90.899. It is still down 1.5 percent this year. In the eurozone, data showing the currency bloc’s manufacturing boom slowed last month added to the downbeat mood, helping send the euro as low as $1.2153, its weakest since Jan. 12.
In Commodities Markets
Oil fell more than 1 percent on Thursday, hitting two-week lows on pressure from a strong dollar and worries that surging U.S. crude output might thwart OPEC’s efforts to drain global supply. Rebounding stock prices on Wall Street helped crude futures bounce off the day’s lows, as stocks and oil futures have been more highly correlated in recent weeks. Brent crude and U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell by more than $1 a barrel. Brent, the global benchmark, lost $1.22, or 1.9 percent, to $63.52 a barrel, after sliding as low as $63.19. U.S. crude was down $1, or 1.6 percent, to $60.66 a barrel, after touching a low of $60.18. The session lows for both benchmarks were the lowest prices in two weeks.
In US Equity Markets
Main indexes swung between gains and losses on Thursday after Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said the central bank does not see strong evidence of wage inflation. The S&P 500 was up 0.17 percent at 2,718.53 and the Nasdaq Composite rose marginally 0.16 percent at 7,284.88. Boeing and Caterpillar were among the biggest decliners on the Dow on fears that import tariffs could hit profits. Steel and aluminum stocks gave back some of their earlier gains Thursday after the Trump administration said President Donald Trump would likely not be issuing an announcement on tariffs, as was previously expected. Shares of U.S. Steel traded up 2.1 percent while AK Steel jumped nearly 4.3 percent. Century Aluminum and Steel Dynamics rose 3.8 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.
In Bond Markets the spread between U.S. shorter- and longer-dated Treasury yields widened on Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said there is no evidence the U.S. economy is currently overheating. The difference between five-year and 30-year Treasury yields was more than 1 basis point wider at 49.8 basis points.
The U.S. bond market’s gauges of inflation expectations remained near session lows on Thursday after data showed U.S. core consumer prices rose 0.3 percent in January, their steepest monthly increase in 12 months.
The 10-year inflation breakeven rate, or the yield gap between 10-year Treasury Inflation Protected Securities and regular 10-year Treasury notes, was 2.11 percent, down 1.5 basis points from late Wednesday.