Most U.S. stocks fell as oil’s worsening slump weighed on energy and industrial shares, overshadowing fresh rallies in high flying technology and biotech companies.
Brent crude slid beneath $45 a barrel to join West Texas Intermediate in a bear market as stockpiles in America remain above seasonal averages and Libya resumed some production. That sent energy shares in the S&P 500 Index to the lowest level in two months. The equity benchmark almost eked out a gain as chipmakers led a rally in its biggest component, tech shares. Treasuries were virtually unchanged after erasing losses, while the dollar slipped.
Oil’s slide into a bear market is showing some signs of spilling over into other assets, with energy junk bonds at the cheapest since November, though contagion remains largely contained. Persistently lower commodity prices raises the specter that inflation will have trouble rising toward levels central banks prefer even as the Federal Reserve reiterates its intention to tighten monetary policy.
The rebound in biotech comes on signs that the Trump administration has softened its stance on drug pricing and as breakthroughs such as Clovis Oncology Inc.’s cancer treatment renew investor interest.
Here are some of the key events on the agenda:
- Still to come on the Fed speaker list: Jerome Powell, James Bullard and Loretta Mester.
- New Zealand’s central bank is expected to leave its benchmark interest rate at a record low when it meets on Thursday.
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And here are the main moves in markets:
- The S&P 500 Index fell 0.1 percent to 2,435.61 as of 4 p.m. in New York. Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. contributed the most to the decline..
- The Nasdaq 100 Index climbed 1 percent, continuing its rebound from a two-week selloff. It’s still 1.8 percent from its June 8 high.
- The Stoxx Europe 600 lost 0.2 percent, with financial shares leading the way.
- The MSCI Emerging Markets Index slid 0.2 percent.
- Saudi Arabian equities jumped amid a palace reshuffle. Chinese shares rose after winning entry into MSCI Inc.’s emerging-markets gauge.
- Brent crude entered a bear market, plunging below $45 a barrel for the first time since November as skepticism that a supply glut will ease worsens. The world benchmark settled $1.20 lower at $44.82, down 22 percent from its January peak.
- West Texas oil lost almost $1 to settle at $42.53. Futures tumbled more than 2 percent on Tuesday, touching the lowest since August.
- Gold futures rose 0.2 percent to $1,245.96 an ounce after falling for five straight days.
- Zinc rose the most in five months, leading other industrial metals higher amid signs of shrinking global supply.
- The pound grabbed the center of the G-10 currency stage for a second day, after remarks from Bank of England Chief Economist Andy Haldane contrasted sharply with the tone set by the bank’s Governor Mark Carney just the day before. Sterling rose more than one cent before paring gains to $1.2663.
- The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.1 percent after rising 0.3 percent on Tuesday and 0.4 percent the previous day. The euro climbed 0.3 percent to $1.1162 after two days of declines.
- The yen was little changed at 111.421 per dollar, after gaining 0.1 percent on Tuesday.
- The yield on 10-year Treasuries was virtually unchanged at 2.16 percent, after declining three basis points on Tuesday.
- Investors still aren’t demanding higher overall premiums for the riskiest corporate debt and the $18.4 billion iShares iBoxx High Yield Corporate Bond ETF has gained 3.9 percent this year, even as credit spreads for energy companies widened to the highest since September after crude slid below $43 a barrel.
- The yield on U.K. benchmark bonds rose four basis points.