Global Stocks Slip Amid Earnings; Yen Tumbles as Crude Advances

  • Google, Microsoft sink tech shares as energy producers gain
  • Oil caps third weekly gain, BOJ speculation sinks yen

Central Bank Concerns vs. Real World Concerns

Global stocks fell as as investors wound back enthusiasm that had sent equity gauges to this year’s highs earlier in the week even as crude climbed to a five-month high. The yen fell the most in 17 months.

U.S. shares ended Friday mixed, with energy producers and banks carrying the Standard & Poor’s to a fourth gain in five days, while Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft Corp. tumbled after earnings disappointed, dragging the Nasdaq 100 Index lower. Crude advanced to a five-month high. U.S. natural gas futures capped the best week of the year as a supply glut narrows. Hedge funds and other large speculators are betting on dollar weakness for the first time in almost two years.

The nine-week rally that took equities to multimonth highs faltered in the week as investors questioned the efficacy of unprecedented central-bank stimulus even as Europe and Japan signal additional steps are possible. Financial results have so far done little to bolster confidence that economic growth is showing up on corporate balance sheets, with Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft on Thursday dimming the outlook for earnings. European carmakers are facing renewed scrutiny after Volkswagen cheated on emissions tests.

“The news on the economic front has been steady, if not unspectacular, and the earnings picture has been mixed at best,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Philadelphia-based Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, which manages $54 billion. “The big tech names that have reported in the last day are having a negative influence on major index returns.”

Stocks

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was little changed at 2,091.62 at 4 p.m. in New York, capping a 0.5 percent weekly advance. The gauge climbed to the highest level in five months earlier in the week. The technology-heavy Nasdaq 100 sank as much as 2.2 percent before trimming the gain. Alphabet and Microsoft plunged at least 5.3 percent.

General Electric Co. slipped as the conglomerate’s sales were slightly short of expectations, even as earnings rose. Advanced Micro Devices Inc. jumped after forecasting higher-than-expected second-quarter revenue. McDonald’s Corp. rose after its profit beat estimates. Caterpillar Inc. fell 3.4 percent after profit missed forecasts.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index fell 1.1 percent. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland companies listed in Hong Kong declined 1.4 percent, taking the week’s loss to 1 percent. A 0.2 percent rebound in the Shanghai Composite Index left the gauge down 3.9 percent over five days, the worst week since January.

Currencies

Positions that benefit from losses by the U.S. currency exceeded those that benefit from from a rally in the week ended April 19, a report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed Friday. That’s the first time since July 2014 that the data haven’t shown net long positions for the dollar versus eight other major currencies.

The possibility of another negative interest-rate in Japan weakened the yen, which slumped 1.5 percent versus the dollar. Bloomberg reported the Bank of Japan may consider helping banks lend by offering a negative rate on some loans. The BOJ meets April 27-28.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Currency Index fell 0.3 percent, cutting its weekly gain to 0.3 percent. Brazil’s real dropped after the central bank sold 20,000 reverse currency swaps on Friday, a move that’s equivalent to buying about $1 billion dollars in the futures market.

Bonds

Treasuries capped a second weekly decline as higher oil prices and an improved U.S. job market lifted bets that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates this year. The odds in futures markets of higher rates by year-end are 63 percent, from 49 percent at the start of the week. The next policy decision is on April 27.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. debt rose two basis points to 1.88 percent, up 13 basis points this week.

Germany’s 10-year government bonds posted their worst week this year as stocks finished a second weekly advance and a gauge of commodity prices touched the highest since November, damping demand for the safest fixed-income assets.

Commodities

The Bloomberg Commodities Index fell 0.6 percent, trimming the best weekly advance since March 4, that saw it touch the highest since November. The gauge has recovered 14 percent since slumping to the lowest level in more than two decades on Jan. 20.

Rebounds in markets from metals to energy have been prompted by short-term factors such as supply disruptions, while longer-term excess capacity persists, Goldman analysts including Jeffrey Currie said in a research note dated April 22.

Oil rose 1.3 percent to settle at $43.73 a barrel in New York. It’s climbed in all but one of the past 10 weeks, including a jump of 8.3 percent over the past five days. Brent crude for June settlement advanced 1.3 percent to $45.11 a barrel in London.

Silver futures for July delivery settled at $16.95 an ounce in New York, taking this week’s gain to 3.9 percent. The metal fell 1.1 percent on Friday. Prices have climbed almost 13 percent since April 1, the steepest three-week climb since January 2015, and are up 23 percent this year. Gold futures for June delivery slipped 1.6 percent to $1,230 an ounce.

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