NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar recovered from early weakness but a gauge of world equity performance edged lower on Thursday as concerns about global growth offset investor optimism over a surge in U.S. retail sales last month and strong Walmart earnings.
Gold prices, which have climbed almost 20% since late May on uncertainty driven by the U.S.-Sino trade spat and global growth concerns, edged higher amid concerns about a slowdown after China threatened to retaliate against the latest U.S. tariffs.
China called on the United States to meet it halfway on a potential trade deal as U.S. President Donald Trump said any pact would have to be on America’s terms.
The yield on 30-year U.S. government debt fell to a record low below 2% and benchmark 10-year Treasury notes dropped to a three-year trough, beaten down by the U.S.-Chinese trade tensions and economic growth concerns.
Euro zone government bond yields went further into negative territory, reflecting concerns of an impending global recession after the U.S. yield curve remained inverted for a second day in a row. The inversion is a classic sign of recession.
But Walmart Inc (WMT.N) reported strong second-quarter results and raised its earnings expectations for the year, while U.S. retail sales increased 0.7% last month after gaining 0.3% in June, the Commerce Department said.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales would rise 0.3% in July.
Investors are caught between slowing global growth, which is weighing on equity markets, with few alternatives to invest in when the dividends of many stocks are higher than the interest on government debt, said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.
“When you get a story like Walmart, you see the glass is half full because maybe it’s not as bad as it seems. There are still companies succeeding in this environment, and that’s going to cause the market to go back and forth,” Meckler said.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS shed 0.29%, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.18%.
Stocks on Wall Street trended lower after earlier gains.
Graphic: U.S. yield curve inversion Aug. 14 2019 – here
Graphic: Yield curves flattening – here
Graphic: Global assets in 2019 – here
Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 – here
Graphic: MSCI All Country World Index Market Cap – here
Graphic: Asia stock markets – here
Graphic: Asia-Pacific valuations – here
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 41.29 points, or 0.16%, to 25,520.71, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 1.24 points, or 0.04%, to 2,841.84 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 20.53 points, or 0.26%, to 7,753.41.
The dollar recovered from early weakness against the safe-haven yen on the better-than-expected U.S. retail sales. The yen tends to benefit from geopolitical or financial stress as Japan is the world’s biggest creditor nation.
The Japanese yen JPY= weakened 0.22% versus the greenback at 106.16 per dollar. The dollar index .DOXY rose 0.2%, with the euro EURO= down 0.34% to $1.11.
Oil prices fell more than 1%, extending the previous session’s 3% drop, pressured by mounting recession concerns and a surprise boost in U.S. crude inventories.
International benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 fell $1.25 to settle at $58.23 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 settled down 76 cents to $54.47.
Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Cynthia Osterman