Equities sink, gold rises on fears of pandemic wave

FILE PHOTO: Gold grain is seen before being melted into 1kg gold bars during a refining process at AGR (African Gold Refinery) in Entebbe
FILE PHOTO: Gold grain is seen before being melted into 1kg gold bars during a refining process at AGR (African Gold Refinery) in Entebbe, Uganda, October 4, 2018. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo)


Rising concerns about the coronavirus pandemic accelerating sent global equities lower Wednesday and pushed investors into perceived safe havens such as the dollar and gold, which hovered near its highest level in eight years.

Several U.S. states are posting record infections and the death toll in Latin America passed 100,000, according to a Reuters tally.

The New York Times reported the European Union was prepared to bar U.S. travelers because of the surge of cases, putting it in the same category as Brazil and Russia.

Adding to the gloom, European Central Bank chief economist Philip Lane warned that the euro zone economy would need a long time to recover from the pandemic-induced crisis and a string of solid data in recent days was not necessarily a good guide to recovery.

And the United States is considering tariffs on $3.1 billion of exports from Britain, France, Spain and Germany, Bloomberg news reported, citing a notice published by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

“With rising daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. remaining front page news, the headlines are proving to be a weighty burden to bear this morning,” Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at AxiCorp, said.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.83% following broad declines in Europe and Asia. The MSCI index has tread water in recent weeks after rising more than 40% from March lows on hopes the worst of the pandemic was over.

In morning trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 235.53 points, or 0.9%, to 25,920.57, the S&P 500 lost 21.03 points, or 0.67%, to 3,110.26 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 27.82 points, or 0.27%, to 10,103.55.

The International Monetary Fund said it now expects global output to shrink by 4.9% this year, compared with a 3.0% contraction predicted in April. A recovery in 2021 also will be weaker, with global growth forecast at 5.4% for the year compared to 5.8% in the April forecast.

The dollar index rose 0.333%, with the euro down 0.34% to $1.1268.

“The dollar and risk sentiment are likely to remain broadly negatively correlated, barring the U.S. displaying clear and enduring leadership in the global economic recovery, something hard to square with the grim U.S. news on COVID,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at NAB.

Spot gold dropped 0.1% to $1,764.97 an ounce after touching $1,773, its highest level since October 2012 in Asian trade.

U.S. government bonds were little changed. Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 3/32 in price to yield 0.7185%, from 0.709% late on Tuesday.

Oil prices were down as record high inventories and concerns about the pandemic outweighed signs of rising demand.

U.S. crude recently fell 1.34% to $39.83 per barrel and Brent was at $42.22, down 0.96% on the day.