Wall Street pulls back as dollar sinks to fresh lows against euro; oil, gold keep climbing

first_imgNEW YORK – Stocks fell sharply and bonds jumped Wednesday after the dollar sank further amid speculation that China will seek to diversify some of its foreign currency stockpiles beyond the greenback. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 140 points. Unease about the dollar dogged stock markets worldwide and in the U.S. comes a day after stocks continued their recent zigzagging to finish with sizable gains. The 13-nation euro hit a fresh record against the dollar – rising to $1.4729 – before falling back. The dollar fell not only against the euro but in Asia following a report that a senior Chinese political figure said China should diversify its $1.43-trillion foreign exchange reserves into the euro and other strong currencies. The euro’s rally put it well above the $1.4554 the currency bought late Tuesday in New York. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre The previous record high, also set Tuesday, was $1.4571. The swooning dollar for a time sent oil above $98 per barrel and also pushed gold higher. “We’ve been seeing a bit of a tug of war,” said Tim Swanson, chief investment officer at National City’s Private Client Group, noting that investors have been grappling with concerns about spiking commodities and credit concerns but seeing reasonable growth in other parts of the economy. In late morning trading, the Dow fell 143.96, or 1.05 percent, to 13,516.98. On Tuesday, the Dow gained about 117 points as some investors looked to snap up bargains despite overhanging concerns about the banking industry’s exposure to bad debt. Broader stock indicators also pulled back Wednesday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 17.61, or 1.16 percent, to 1,502.66, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 31.42, or 1.11 percent, to 2,793.76. Government bonds jumped as the dollar sank. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite the price, fell to 4.35 percent from 4.37 percent late Tuesday. Light, sweet crude rose 83 cents to $97.53 on the New York Mercantile Exchange but came off its high after the goverment reported inventories fell less than expected last week while refinery utilization remained flat. December gold surged $16.60 to $840 an ounce on the Nymex. Economic data arriving Wednesday appeared to offer some upbeat news, although investors remained concerned about the faltering dollar and rising prices for oil and gold. The Labor Department reported that worker productivity surged at an annual rate of 4.9 percent in the summer, the fastest pace in four years, while wage pressures eased. Figures on U.S. wholesale inventories showed a greater-than-expected increase in September but that demand also held up. “On one side we’ve got the forces of globalization and on the other side we’ve got woes from housing and largely related credit concerns,” Swanson said. “As we see volatility on a day-by-day basis it’s these two forces duking it out trying to see which ultimately will prevail. “On days like today it feels awful just like on days like yesterday it felt great,” he said, referring to the market’s gains Tuesday. “Once you step back from day to day gyrations and look at valuations you come away with a view that things are OK.” Still, he said a slumping dollar and rising oil are concerns. The economy could likely eventually absorb an “orderly decline” in the dollar and more modest moves in oil prices, he said. At present, though, there is concern that oil is acting as a “tax on U.S. consumers,” by making them spend more on fuel than in other areas. Beyond broader economic concerns, some corporate news didn’t offer Wall Street much reason for cheering. General Motors Corp. reported a $39 billion loss for the third quarter due to an accounting shift. The company warned late Tuesday it would book a $38.6 billion noncash charge largely related to establishing a valuation allowance. A valuation allowance is taken when the future benefit of the deferred tax assets is less likely to be realized. GM’s loss came to $68.85 per share, compared with a loss of $147 million, or 26 cents per share, in the third quarter a year earlier. The stock fell $1.64, or 4.5 percent, to $34.52. In other corporate news, media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. posted a 53 percent decline in its third-quarter earnings from a year earlier when results benefited from tax and investment gains. Results from the parent of HBO, Warner Bros., Time Warner Cable and Time magazine were in line with estimates of analysts polled by Thomson Financial. The stock fell 2 cents to $18.31. Foster Wheeler Ltd. rose $11.70, or 8.7 percent, to $147.01 after the provider of engineering and construction services said growth abroad helped boost quarterly profits 70 percent. Declining issues outnumbered advancers by about 5 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 485.9 million shares. The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 12.92, or 1.61 percent, to 788.85. Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average closed down 0.94 percent. In afternoon trading, Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 1.05 percent, Germany’s DAX index fell 0.49 percent, and France’s CAC-40 fell 0.51 percent. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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