U.S. stocks slipped on Tuesday after strong U.S. economic data stoked concerns about the impact of a potential Federal Reserve interest rate hike this year and a drop in technology shares, while European stocks and the dollar hit multi-week highs.
The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose to 101.1 this month, an 11-month high. The data supported expectations that the Fed could raise rates this year after top Fed officials have said recently that such a move was possible. Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, in an interview with Bloomberg TV, said the U.S. job market is close to full strength and the pace of interest rate hikes will depend on how well the economy is doing.
Mounting expectations for a Fed hike this year boosted financial stocks on both sides of the Atlantic, limiting losses in U.S. shares and helping the pan-European STOXX 600 hit its highest level since mid-August. Banks benefit from higher interest rates, which can boost margins. Apple dragged down U.S. technology stocks after EU antitrust regulators ordered the iPhone maker to pay about $14.5 billion in back taxes to the Irish government. Apple shares ended down 0.8 percent.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, strengthened to a three-week high of 96.143 as investors looked ahead to Friday’s jobs data.
“Stocks are extended and not cheap, and there’s no immediate catalyst other than momentum to make stocks go higher,” said Jim Awad, managing director at Plimsoll Mark Capital in New York, on the dip in U.S. shares overall.
“And it appears we’re going to have a modest tightening in financial conditions in the United States,” he said in reference to a possible 2016 Fed rate hike.
MSCI’s all-country world equity index was last down 0.44 points, or 0.11 percent, at 417.6. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 48.69 points, or 0.26 percent, at 18,454.3. The S&P 500 ended down 4.26 points, or 0.2 percent, at 2,176.12. The Nasdaq Composite closed down 9.34 points, or 0.18 percent, at 5,222.99. Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index closed up 0.50 percent, at 1,357.17.
Oil prices fell for a second straight day on the dollar’s strength and worries about crude oversupply. A strong greenback makes fuel purchases more expensive for countries using other currencies domestically. Brent crude settled down 89 cents, or 1.81 percent, at $48.37 per barrel. U.S. crude settled down 63 cents, or 1.34 percent, at $46.35 per barrel. U.S. Treasury yields were little changed as traders awaited the U.S. jobs data. Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields were last at 1.570 percent, from a yield of 1.566 percent late Monday.
“It’s all about the Fed and it’s also about the August jobs report this Friday,” said Ninh Chung, head of portfolio management at SVB Asset Management in San Francisco.
Spot gold prices hit a six-week low of $1,311.65 on the strength in the dollar. U.S. gold futures for December delivery settled down 0.8 percent at $1,316.5 per ounce.