European stocks fell, snapping a rally that drove the region’s benchmark equity index to an eight-month high, the yen strengthened while Treasuries halted an eight-day decline.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) slipped 0.4 percent at 9:20 a.m. in London and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures lost 0.3 percent. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note declined two basis points. The yen appreciated against 16 of its most-traded peers, gaining 0.4 percent against the dollar. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI gauge of 24 commodities dropped 0.3 percent. “Market gains were fast and furious,” said Franz Wenzel, deputy director of investment strategy at Axa Investment Managers in Paris, which oversees $673 billion of assets. “It’s time for a pause. We’ve started to see liquidity fatigue: All the positive spin attached to liquidity in the market has started to level off.”
The International Monetary Fund said March 16 that Greece may need another bailout, as credit-default swaps dealers hold an auction today to settle as much as $3.2 billion of the nation’s bond insurance. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde urged policy makers yesterday to be vigilant about threats to economic stability, citing oil prices, debt and the risk of slowing growth in emerging markets. Apple Inc. (AAPL) plans to discuss its $97.6 billion in cash and investments on a call today.
The Stoxx 600 snapped a four-day rally as automakers and banks led declines. Swiss Life Holding AG (SLHN) dropped 3.5 percent as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. downgraded the insurance company. TNT Express NV rose 2 percent after United Parcel Service Inc. reached an agreement to buy the delivery company for 5.16 billion euros.
The decline in S&P 500 (SPX) futures indicated the U.S. gauge will retreat from the highest level since May 2008.
Apple climbed 2.5 percent in pre-market New York trading as Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook and Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer plan to host a conference call at 9 a.m. New York time. The maker of the iPad may issue a quarterly dividend of $2 a share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The estimate is based in part on the dividends paid by other large technology makers, including Microsoft Corp. and International Business Machines Corp.
The Treasury 10-year yield climbed 35 basis points during the eight days of increases, while two-, five- and 30-year yields also declined today. The German 10-year bund yield dropped four basis points, falling for the first time in five days, while the yield on the similar-maturity Portuguese bond tumbled 14 basis points to 13.52 percent.
The yen rose for a third consecutive day against the dollar and advanced 0.6 percent versus the euro. The 17-nation euro snapped a two-day gain against the dollar, weakening 0.2 percent.
The cost of insuring against default on European corporate bonds rose for the first time in five days, according to traders of credit-default swaps. The Markit iTraxx Crossover Index of contracts on 50 mostly junk-rated companies climbed 3.5 basis points to 531.5, up from the lowest since August.
Brent oil declined 0.5 percent to $125.18 a barrel and copper fell 0.3 percent to $8,487 a metric ton. Wheat dropped 0.7 percent to $6.6725 a bushel.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index (MXEF) slid 0.3 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) of Chinese stocks listed in Hong Kong fell 1.6 percent, its fourth consecutive decline after China’s home prices had the worst performance in at least a year. The BSE India Sensitive Index, or Sensex (SENSEX), dropped 1.3 percent, extending a four-week loss as a gain in oil prices spurred concern the government will find it difficult to curb the fiscal deficit. The Micex Index (MICEX) fell 1.9 percent in Moscow.
New home prices in China weakened in 27 of 70 cities last month from a year earlier and prices were unchanged in six cities, the national statistics bureau said in a statement on its website yesterday. That is the worst since the government began releasing individual data for 70 cities instead of a national average at the start of 2011.