Dollar, stocks sag on poor U.S. economic data

NEW YORK - The dollar fell broadly and investors favored government debt over stocks on Thursday after disappointing data on U.S. jobs and economic growth rekindled concerns about the health of America’s economy.

By (Reuters)

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Published: Fri 1 Aug 2008, 2:01 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 11:47 AM

Oil retreated, after an early bounce, as a surprise jump in U.S. weekly jobless claims and weaker than expected second-quarter gross domestic product pressured crude prices.

Most U.S. stocks declined on the economic data, but the Nasdaq rose after Bristol-Myers Squibb Co BMY.N offered to buy out biotech partner ImClone Systems Inc IMCL.O at a healthly premium. ImClone shares surged nearly 38 percent.

Government stimulus checks helped the U.S. economy to grow a modest 1.9 percent in the second quarter, but the growth rate failed to dispel Wall Street fears of rising recession risks.

The markets were particularly unsettled over revised data from the Commerce Department released with the GDP figures thatshowed U.S. output shrank in last year’s final quarter, edging up just slightly at the start of 2008.

“It looks like the economy was closer to recession than the previous data indicated,” said Gary Thayer, senior economist at Wachovia Securities in St. Louis.

Further undermining confidence, the U.S. Labor Department said jobless claims surged to 448,000 last week from a revised 404,000 in the prior week. Readings that are above 400,000 in the past have proven to be indicative of a recession if that rate is sustained.

Investors dumped Caterpillar CAT.N and other big manufacturers as the weak economic data revived recession fears.

“The trend is definitely negative for the labor market,” said Steve Point, lead portfolio manager at Glenmede Investment Management in Philadelphia. “This could have a great impact on consumer spending.”

However, business activity data from Chicago NAPM, the Institute for Supply Management-Milwaukee, and Kansas City Federal Reserve showed surprising regional growth in July.

Energy shares weighed on the Dow after Exxon Mobil’s XOM.N quarterly earnings missed forecasts and the price of oil fell. Exxon shares shed 3 percent.

Before 1 p.m. the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 112.20 points, or 0.97 percent, at 11,471.49. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX was down 7.62 points, or 0.59 percent, at 1,276.64. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was up 11.66 points, or 0.50 percent, at 2,341.38.

European shares closed flat in a volatile session following the U.S. economic data and a flurry of mixed earnings results in Europe.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index .FETU3 of top European shares closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,180.04 points.

British lender HBOS HBOS.L surprising investors with better-than-expected first-half results. The stock rallied 7.1 percent, pushing the DJStoxx European banking index .SX7P 0.2 percent higher.

But food producers were the biggest drag after Unilever ULVR.L delivered second-quarter earnings which some analysts described as “poor quality.”

The stock plummeted 8 percent in London, dragging peers Danone DANO.PA and Nestle NESN.VX 0.9 percent and 2.2 percent lower, respectively.

U.S. and euro zone government bonds rose, buoyed by the U.S. economic data showing a slower pace of growth while euro zone inflation data hit a new record high, was no worse than expected.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note US10YTRR rose 20/32 to yield 3.97 percent. The 30-year U.S. Treasury bond US30YTRR rose 26/32 to yield 4.59 percent.

The dollar fell against major currencies, with the U.S. Dollar Index .DXY down 0.06 percent at 73.265. Against the yen, the dollar JPY was down 0.13 percent at 107.96.

The euro EUR was unchanged at $1.5588.

U.S. light sweet crude oil CLc1 fell $2.91 to $123.86 a barrel.

Spot gold prices XAU rose $11.45 to $916.90 an ounce.

Most Asian stock markets rose after a move by central banks to boost liquidity in financial markets offset a $4 rebound in oil prices,

Tokyo’s Nikkei average .N225 edged up 0.1 percent, and MSCI’s measure of Asia Pacific stocks excluding Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS up 0.5 percent.

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