By Chibuike Oguh
New York – Global equities and the U.S. dollar advanced on Monday despite weaker-than-expected economic data in China that prompted its central bank to cut its lending rate, stoking concerns of a global recession.
The People’s Bank of China unexpectedly cut key interest rates after the world’s second-largest economy reported July data on industrial output and retail sales that missed most analyst estimates.
China’s strict COVID-19 restrictions have hobbled activity at its main manufacturing hubs and popular tourist spots, including Shanghai, even as a deepening downturn continues in the property market.
Markets reversed earlier session losses and were slightly higher. The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 50 countries, was up 0.23%. Overnight in Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan had closed 0.34% lower.
“You’ve been seeing a slowing trend in China amplified by the lockdowns,” said Tom Plumb, portfolio manager at Plumb Balanced Fund in Wisconsin.
“The credit problems they’ve had especially with real estate developers, that’s going to tie their hands for how aggressive they can go back to stimulation. But I think it’s a sign they’re going to try to be more accommodative.”
The U.S. dollar strengthened following news of the Chinese central bank action amid disappointing data. The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six peers, rose 0.785%, with the euro down 0.97% to $1.0158.
Oil prices dropped by more than 3% on demand concerns after the weak data from China, one of the largest importers of crude. Brent crude futures settled down 3.1% to $95.10 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude closed at $89.41, down 2.9%.
On Wall Street, major indexes climbed, reversing earlier session losses, following four straight weeks of gains and a likely moderation on U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate hikes after a slowdown in inflation.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.42% to 33,903.57, the benchmark S&P 500 gained 0.37% to 4,296.09 points, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.59% to 13,123.89.
U.S. Treasury yields were slightly lower as the market continued to assess to what extent a slowdown in inflation could impact the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary tightening policies.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields were down to 2.795% from a 2.849% close last week. Two-year note yields fell to 3.1988% from 3.257%.
Gold fell over 1% to its lowest in a week on Monday amid sharp declines across precious metals due to a stronger dollar, with concerns over further rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve adding to pressure on bullion.
Spot gold dropped dropped 1.3% to $1,778.53 an ounce, while U.S. gold futures fell 1% to $1,781.40 an ounce.
(Reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York; Editing by Deepa Babington and Marguerita Choy)