Stocks ease, yen gains as investors seek to avoid risk

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imageEconomy2 hours ago (Oct 21, 2021 17:27)

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© Reuters. The logo of China Evergrande is seen at outside China Evergrande Centre building in Hong Kong, China September 23, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

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By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Global stock indexes were down slightly on Thursday as U.S. technology shares fell along with IBM (NYSE:IBM), while risk-sensitive currencies including the Australian dollar weakened.

The Japanese yen gained as investors sought safety, while oil prices fell sharply.

U.S. Treasury yields rose as investors focused on when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates after it has finished tapering its massive bond buying program.

“We’re seeing a little bit of a risk-off today and I think that’s being driven by concerns we’re getting closer to that Fed tapering announcement,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst for the Americas at OANDA in New York.

Shares of IBM fell after it missed market estimates for quarterly revenue as its managed infrastructure business suffered from a decline in orders.

Other major action saw Turkey’s lira backflip to new lows after the country’s central bank slashed interest rates again and default-threatened China Evergrande’s shares plunged after a $2.6 billion stake sale fell through.

Turkey’s lira dropped against the dollar after the central bank cut interest rates down to 16% from 18%.

Evergrande will default on $19 billion of international market bonds if it doesn’t make an already overdue coupon payment by Monday. It would the biggest ever Chinese default and one of the world’s largest too. Lehman Brothers’ collapse added up to $35 billion.

Late on Wednesday, Evergrande confirmed it had abandoned plans to sell a $2.6 billion stake in its property services unit.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 130.42 points, or 0.37%, to 35,478.92, the S&P 500 lost 3.67 points, or 0.08%, to 4,532.52 and the Nasdaq Composite added 32.38 points, or 0.21%, to 15,154.06.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.08% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.20%.

The Australian dollar, which is a proxy for risk appetite, fell 0.33% to $0.7491 after reaching $0.7547 overnight, the highest since July 6.

The dollar dipped against the safe-haven Japanese yen. It had hit a four-year high of 114.67 against the Japanese currency on Wednesday.

Bitcoin last fell 4.27% to $63,171.33, but demand for the cryptocurrency has increased after the launch of the first U.S. bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund.

In Treasuries, the yield on 10-year Treasury notes was up 3.9 basis points to 1.675% after the breakeven inflation rate on 10-year TIPS hit a nine-year high of 2.614% earlier in the session.

Investors are estimating that surging energy prices and tightening job markets will pressure top central banks such as the U.S. Fed and ECB to either raise interest rates or at least rein in the stimulus.

U.S. crude recently fell 2.58% to $81.27 per barrel and Brent was at $83.81, down 2.34% on the day.

U.S. gold futures gained 0.09% to $1,785.70 an ounce.

Stocks ease, yen gains as investors seek to avoid risk

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