World stocks stall but dollar strengthens as China cuts growth target

U.S Stocks New York Stock Exchange
U.S Stocks New York Stock Exchange Copyright REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
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World stocks stall but dollar strengthens as China cuts growth target


A gauge of world stock markets dipped on Tuesday but held near five-month highs as China cut its growth targets to a 30-year low but added more stimulus, while strong U.S. economic data put the dollar on track to notch its fifth straight day of gains.

Stocks on Wall Street edged lower, with the benchmark S&P 500 index on track for its fifth decline in six sessions as growth worries dented sentiment and investors looked for developments on trade between the U.S. and China. Losses were curbed, however, by positive retail earnings from Target and data on the services and housing sectors.

The Commerce Department said sales of new U.S. single-family homes rose to a seven-month high in December while a reading from the Institute for Supply Management showed an acceleration in growth in the vast services sector in February.

The S&P 500 index has struggled to hold above the 2,800 level, which has proven to be a stiff resistant point. Still, the index is up nearly 19 percent from its Dec. 24 low.

"Investors are trying to get a sense of whether the selloff from yesterday will continue or if it is a one-day event," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.

"After the recent run in markets this year, I think it warrants some cautiousness."

European shares bounced between modest gains and declines in the wake of China's response to the lowered growth target of between 6.0 to 6.5 percent for 2019, which includes billions of dollars in planned tax cuts and infrastructure spending.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7.02 points, or 0.03 percent, to 25,812.63, the S&P 500 lost 0.3 points, or 0.01 percent, to 2,792.51 and the Nasdaq Composite added 6.38 points, or 0.08 percent, to 7,583.94.

Fatigue after a strong run higher for equities is playing a role in the recent pause. MSCI's All Country World Index shed 0.05 percent, but has now risen about 15 percent from its near two-year closing low on Dec. 24. The index is trading at 14.6 times expected earnings, on par with levels back in early October when a global bear market began to take hold.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.27 percent.

Global stock valuations -

In currency markets, the greenback was lifted by the economic data and is now up nearly 1 percent over the past five sessions.

The dollar index, tracking the unit against six major currencies, rose 0.27 percent, with the euro down 0.38 percent to $1.1294.

Crude prices rose as the market balanced OPEC-led efforts to tighten supply with the restart of Libya's biggest oilfield and the prospect of weaker demand.

U.S. crude rose 0.25 percent to $56.73 per barrel and Brent was last at $65.74, up 0.11 percent on the day.

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