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US stocks tumble as bitcoin, gold score record highs

Published 05/03/2024, 02:13
Updated 05/03/2024, 21:20
© Reuters. Pedestrians walk on a crossing near the Qianmen Gate in Beijing, China January 26, 2024. REUTERS/Florence Lo/file photo

By Stephen Culp

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Wall Street stocks closed sharply lower on Tuesday while bitcoin and gold touched all-time highs as market participants eyed upcoming economic data and central bank actions.

All three major U.S. stock indexes fell 1% or more on the day, with the tech-laden Nasdaq suffering the steepest loss.

"This seems to be a day when bad news is bad news," said Tom Hainlin, national investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis. "We had sluggish data. It's more about concerns about a slowing economy, and less about how many times the Fed will cut interest rates this year."

Despite the risk-averse sentiment among stock investors, bitcoin touched, and then backed away from, a record high.

The cryptocurrency was last off 7.6% on the day at $62,380.

"You've had this big run in stocks, and investors are looking to put their money into some other areas where they think they can generate some cash," said Chuck Carlson, CEO of Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana.

Gold also reached an all-time high, powered by interest rate cut expectations.

"We can draw the line from weaker economic data to higher expectations that the Fed will cut interest rates to less support for the dollar, which, in turn supports gold," Hainlin added.

Economic data showed a waning expansion of the U.S. services sector, and a steeper-than-expected drop in new factory orders.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 404.64 points, or 1.04%, to 38,585.19, the S&P 500 lost 52.3 points, or 1.02%, to 5,078.65 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 267.92 points, or 1.65%, to 15,939.59.

European shares ended lower after moves by China to stimulate its economy failed to impress investors, who grew cautious ahead of euro zone and U.S. economic data, as well as a policy decision from the European Central Bank.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.23% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.79%.

Emerging market stocks lost 0.89%. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.95% lower, while Japan's Nikkei lost 0.03%.

The dollar inched lower against a basket of world currencies after the weaker-than-expected U.S. economic data.

The dollar index fell 0.07%, with the euro up 0.03% to $1.0857.

The Japanese yen strengthened 0.39% versus the greenback to 149.95 per dollar, while Sterling was last trading at $1.2706, up 0.13% on the day.

Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields fell to a one-month low in following the softer-than-expected services sector data as investors prepared for Friday's employment report.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 21/32 in price to yield 4.137%, from 4.219% late on Monday.

The 30-year bond last rose 43/32 in price to yield 4.275%, from 4.355% late on Monday.

Oil prices softened on skepticism over China's economic growth plan ahead of the latest weekly of U.S. crude inventory reports.

U.S. crude dropped 0.75% to settle at $78.15 per barrel, while Brent settled at $82.04, down 0.92% on the day.

© Reuters. A trader works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., March 5, 2024.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Gold touched an all-time high as market participants solidified their bets that the Fed will begin lowering its key policy rate in June.

Spot gold added 0.7% to $2,129.54 an ounce.

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