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Equities sink on virus angsts, Fed aftermath; gold, yen rise

Kitco News

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. and European equities slid on Friday as investors sought direction after this week’s Federal Reserve meeting and a jump in coronavirus cases rattled sentiment, while gold rose and safe-haven buying lifted the Japanese yen.

The dollar was on track for its fifth straight day of declines against the yen as Japan’s monetary policy of yield curve control pushes up real interest rates.

U.S. technology-related stocks reversed early gains on Wall Street to extend their decline to a third day. Apple Inc AAPL.O, Microsoft Corp MSFT.O, Amazon.com Inc AMZN.O and Alphabet Inc GOOGL.O, which have led Wall Street to rally from the pandemic-induced slump in March, led equities lower.

A decision by the administration of President Donald Trump to ban WeChat and video-sharing app TikTok from U.S. app stores starting Sunday night raised concerns about a new front in the ongoing China-U.S. political tensions.

“The diplomatic tug of war is not being resolved,” said Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management. “The tensions are heightening rather than easing. That’s not something the market likes to see.”

The Japanese yen JPY= strengthened 0.29% versus the greenback at 104.43 per dollar, after earlier gaining to 104.270 - its strongest level against the U.S. currency since July 31.

The dollar index =USD fell 0.052%, with the euro EUR= up 0.08% to $1.1856.

Worries about rising coronavirus cases and a patchy economic recovery subdued risk sentiment in equity markets.

France registered a record 10,593 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the highest single-day count since the pandemic began, while talks of a second lockdown were making the rounds in Britain with hospital admissions doubling every eight days.

MSCI's benchmark for global equity markets fell 0.15% to 569.29, while in Europe, the broad FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed down 0.45%.

A resurgence in coronavirus cases is the biggest threat to the recovering euro zone economy, a Reuters poll of economists shows, as growth and inflation are more likely to cause negative surprises over the coming year than positive ones.

Around 30 million people have been infected by the virus globally, and more than 900,000 have died, triggering some of the deepest recessions on record and breaking up supply chains around the world.

Investors ignored a report that showed U.S. consumer sentiment increased in early September, with Democrats more upbeat about the economy’s outlook compared with Republicans ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 0.03%, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.37% and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 0.75%.

No major economic data was expected until the release of September’s unemployment report on Oct. 2, leaving investors without a compass.

U.S. Treasury yields were little changed near the middle of recent trading ranges as government-bond investors once again took their cue from equity markets.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury US10YT=RR note traded at 0.6888%.

Euro zone government bond yields also traded little changed as expectations of more central bank policy easing coupled with concerns about the economic recovery underpinned sentiment.

Safe-haven German 10-year bond yields were up 0.3 basis point at -0.488%.

Investors piled into emerging markets assets, with an index of developing countries’ currencies poised for its biggest weekly gain since early June as developing country debt funds enjoyed their eleventh straight week of inflows.

Copper touched its highest in more than two years as speculators extended their buying spree on the economic recovery in top metals consumer China while the dollar weakened.

China has been a major beneficiary of investment flows as the country is the most attractive market for asset managers with cash to allocate, according to fund flow tracker EPFR.

Stocks overnight in China made their strongest gains in three weeks, with the CSI300 index .CSI300 adding 2.2%, led by financial companies.

Gold prices gained, buoyed by a weaker dollar and concerns over the economic recovery that were underscored on Thursday by the elevated weekly U.S. jobless claims data.

Spot gold prices XAU= rose 0.51% to $1,952.53 an ounce.

Oil prices edged higher, bolstered by bullish signals from a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries this week. But gains were limited after a Libyan commander said a blockade on Libya’s oil exports would be lifted for a month.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 fell $0.01 to $43.29 a barrel. U.S. crude futures CLc1 gained $0.24, to $41.21 a barrel.

Reporting by Herbert Lash; additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler

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