An index of world stock markets eased on Friday after a five-day winning streak, as a rally fueled by hopes that Sino-U.S. trade tensions will ease and that the U.S. central bank will be patient on monetary policy took a breather. The weakness in stocks and data showing a decline in consumer prices during December supported U.S. Treasury prices. MSCI's all-country index was down 0.22 per cent. For the week, the index was up 2.7 per cent, on pace for its best weekly gain in six weeks.
Stocks have rallied this week, helped by promises of patients from the Federal Reserve, the ECB mulling more cheap money and trade talks between Washington and Beijing moving to higher levels. On Friday, U.S. stocks retreated amid broad-based declines as investors pocketed some profits and reset positions ahead of the earnings season.
The pause comes after a strong start to 2019, which lifted the S&P 500 by more than 10 per cent from a 20-month low it touched around Christmas. With big U.S. banks kicking off fourth-quarter earnings next week, investors will comb through earnings reports and projections for signs of a slowdown in economic growth. "We've run up and people seem to be in a wait-and-watch mode before they put more money back in," said Mark Grant, chief global strategist at B. Riley FBR Inc.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 107.61 points, or 0.45 per cent, to 23,894.31, the S&P 500 lost 9.62 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 2,587.02 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 41.18 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 6,944.89. The pan-European STOXX 600 benchmark was up -0.01 per cent. Treasury prices rose, helped by the weakness in stocks and as data showed U.S. consumer prices fell for the first time in nine months in December.
"Stocks are a little weaker. They really have dictated the direction of Treasury trading for a while now," said Thomas Simons, a money market economist at Jefferies in New York. Benchmark 10-year notes gained 11/32 in price to yield 2.6936 per cent, down from 2.731 per cent late Thursday. In currency markets, the dollar rose against the euro, boosted by technical factors after the euro hit key resistance levels.
The euro was down 0.28 per cent against the dollar at $1.1466. The single currency is up 0.7 per cent for the week. China's onshore yuan finished the domestic session at 6.7482 per dollar, up 1.8 per cent this week in its biggest gain since July 2005, when Beijing abandoned the yuan's peg to the dollar.
In commodities, oil prices fell but were on track for weekly gains after financial markets strengthened on hopes the United States and China may soon resolve their trade dispute. Brent crude was down 1.54 per cent, or $0.95, to $60.73 per barrel. U.S. crude was at $51.78 per barrel, down $0.81 or 1.54 per cent. Gold rose on Friday, on pace for a fourth straight weekly gain, as expectations grew that brakes could soon be applied to U.S. interest rates, boosting the allure of the non-yielding metal. Spot gold rose 0.24 per cent to $1,289.36 per ounce.
(With inputs from agencies.)