Markets & News

European Stocks Retreat as Dollar Rally Fades Before Yellen

European stocks fell for the first time this week amid concern over the outlook for economic growth while a dollar rally ran out of steam before signals on the likely path of U.S. interest rates.

Equity markets retreated in Europe as an unexpected drop in German business sentiment signaled companies remained cautious after Britain’s decision to quit the European Union. Iron ore fell on the prospect of shrinking steel production in China and crude oil traded near a one-week low. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index snapped a four-day winning streak as investors await comments by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen at a symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday.

A rally that’s driven global equities to their highest level in a year has petered out as the prospect of higher U.S. rates risks thwarting efforts by other central banks to stimulate growth by cutting borrowing costs. While German business confidence dropped to the lowest level in six months in August, a U.S. report on Thursday will probably show a pickup in durable goods orders.

“There is renewed caution ahead of Yellen’s appearance at Jackson Hole tomorrow,” said Michael Ingram, a market strategist at BGC Partners in London. “It won’t take a great deal for sentiment to turn from glass half full to glass half empty.”

Stocks

The Stoxx 600 slid 0.7 percent at 10:33 a.m. in London. Glencore Plc and Anglo American Plc led a gauge of miners to the worst performance on the equity gauge as iron ore retreated. Total SA dragged energy producers lower as oil held near its lowest close in a week.

Playtech Plc rose 3.4 percent after the gambling-software provider reported an increase in first-half revenue and announced a special dividend. Jimmy Choo Plc jumped 5.3 percent after the maker of luxury shoes posted higher first-half revenue and earnings and said it remains optimistic on this year’s prospects. CRH Plc rose 2.6 percent after the Irish construction company posted higher-than-expected first-half sales and profit.

S&P 500 Index futures slipped 0.2 percent, after a late selloff in drugmakers helped drag U.S. equities down 0.5 percent on Wednesday. HP Inc. dropped 6.7 percent in early New York trading after the seller of personal computers and printers forecast fiscal fourth-quarter profit that may fall short of analysts’ estimates.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, which tracks the currency against 10 peers, declined 0.1 percent, after climbing 0.8 percent over the last four trading sessions. Fed funds futures indicate a 54 percent chance of a U.S. interest-rate hike this year, up from 36 percent at the start of August. The yen was little changed at 100.37 per dollar and South Korea’s won gained 0.6 percent.

“The market’s just trying to get through the whole event risk” of Yellen’s speech, said Andy Ji, a Singapore-based currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. “But after that, what’s driving the market is back to the search for yield and it’s good for emerging markets in general.”

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sees the pound, the yen and the kiwi as most vulnerable to a potential surprise from Yellen’s speech.

Commodities

Iron ore dropped 2.8 percent in Singapore after Li Xinchuang, a vice chairman at the China Iron & Steel Association, said falling steel production in China should weigh on prices for the raw material. The price is still up by about 40 percent for the year.

West Texas Intermediate crude was little changed at $46.73 a barrel. It dropped 2.8 percent in the last session as data showed U.S. inventories unexpectedly rose last week.

Gold gained less than 0.2 percent, after sliding 2.1 percent over the last four days.

Bonds

U.S. Treasuries due in two years were little changed with their yield at a two-month high of 0.76 percent. The securities are the cheapest they’ve been relative to 30-year notes since the start of 2008 following a run of hawkish comments from Fed officials including Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer and the heads of the New York and San Francisco branches.

“The Fed is likely to hike this year, with December more likely than September,” said Jarrod Kerr, a senior rates strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia in Sydney. “There is some room for short-end U.S. yields to push a little higher over 2017.”