Stocks Pare Early Losses as Trump Lets Bannon Go: Markets Wrap

Updated on
  • Major U.S. equity indexes whipsaw before ending lower
  • Havens like gold and Japanese yen retrench, oil surges

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Stocks rallied from early session lows after the White House announced that Steve Bannon would be leaving his job as chief strategist on Friday. Oil surged, while havens such as gold and the yen gave back some gains.

U.S. equity gauges briefly bounced into positive territory on the news, but ended down for the day. In Europe, stocks extended their declines after a terrorist attack in Barcelona added to unease about U.S. policy paralysis and lingering tensions over North Korea. Treasuries fell and the dollar weakened.

Bloomberg View columnist Mohamed El-Erian discusses the outlook for markets.

(Source: Bloomberg)

The removal of Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News and a controversial key adviser to President Donald Trump, may quell some of the fallout from Trump’s remarks on violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, which continue to raise questions about his ability to retain his team and focus on his economic plans.

Earlier Friday, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called on Trump to “acknowledge he was wrong” and apologize to the American people. Speculation that former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. President Gary Cohn, was poised to resign as head of the National Economic Council roiled markets on Thursday, until the White House issued a statement that he was staying.

“Picking fights and getting criticized by members of one’s own party don’t help in pursuing one’s agenda,” Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, wrote in a note to clients Friday.

Investors pulled $1.3 billion from equity funds in the week ending Aug. 16 as tensions over the Korean peninsula escalated, according to EPFR Global data. Outflows from U.S. stock funds were triple that, suggesting doubts about Trump’s stimulus plans are an additional worry. Heightened terror fears added to the malaise after at least 13 people died when a van plowed into pedestrians in Barcelona Thursday.

“The terror attacks in the U.S. and Spain just add to all the other geopolitical mess,” Simon Quijano-Evans, a strategist at London-based Legal & General Investment Management Ltd., said in a note to clients. “At some stage that is likely to culminate into a more extreme market reaction.”

Still, Naoki Fujiwara, chief fund manager of Shinkin Asset Management Co. in Tokyo, cautioned investors against drawing any long-term conclusions because the terrorist attack in Spain and political turmoil in the U.S. don’t amount a trend.

“Both the U.S. and Japanese economies are doing well, and what’s most important is the direction of U.S. monetary policy,” Fujiwara said. “As long as the fundamentals are steady, the market will recover.”

Terminal subscribers can read more on our Markets Live blog.

Here are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • The S&P 500 Index ended down 0.2 percent at 2,425.55.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 76 points to 21,674.51, while the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.1 percent.
  • The Stoxx Europe 600 Index sank 0.7 percent.
  • The MSCI All-Country World Index slid 0.3 percent. 
  • Germany’s DAX Index decreased 0.3 percent. 
  • The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index tumbled 0.9 percent. 
  • The MSCI Emerging Market Index dipped 0.2 percent.

Currencies

  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index decreased 0.3 percent.
  • The euro advanced 0.4 percent to $1.1764.  
  • The British pound climbed less than 0.1 percent to $1.2876. 
  • The Japanese yen increased 0.4 percent to 109.17 per dollar.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries gained less than one basis point to 2.191 percent. 
  • Germany’s 10-year yield decreased one basis point to 0.41 percent. 
  • Britain’s 10-year yield rose less than a basis point to 1.089 percent.

Commodities

  • Gold fell 0.1 percent to 1286.49. 
  • West Texas Intermediate crude rose 3.3 percent to $48.62 a barrel.

Asia

  • Japan’s Topix index fell 1.1 percent at the close, down 1.2 percent over the week. Australia’s S&P/500 Index ended 0.6 percent lower. The Kospi index ended 0.1 percent lower. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.6 percent.  
  • The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.4 percent.

— With assistance by Yuko Takeo, Ian C Sayson, Natasha Doff, Robert Brand, and Julie Verhage

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