LONDON - The S&P 500 was little changed on Tuesday after a sharp pull back in the prior session as investors parsed through a slew of mixed corporate earnings, while awaiting progress on US fiscal stimulus.
The blue-chip Dow was weighed down by shares of Caterpillar Inc and 3M Co after the industrial companies reported lower quarterly earnings.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.6 percent as Microsoft Corp firmed 0.8 percent in the run-up to its results after the closing bell.
European equities fell in early Tuesday trading as risk-aversion swept markets, with a resurgence of coronavirus cases threatening the global economic recovery and caution ahead of US elections on Nov 3.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 countries, was down 0.1 percent at 0828 GMT, having erased some losses overnight after dropping to a 19-day low in the previous session.
MSCI’s main European Index was at a one-month low, down 0.5 percent.
The STOXX 600 also touched new one-month lows in early London trading, down 0.4 percent on the day, as weakness in miners and automakers offset upbeat results from UK blue-chip companies HSBC and BP.
“It’s difficult to escape the feeling that investors are undergoing much higher levels of apprehension about how events over the next few days, as well as the next few weeks, are likely to play out, with respect to the prospect of tighter restrictions and new lockdowns,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, wrote in a note to clients.
The United States has seen record COVID-19 infections, while in France authorities are looking at options for tighter lockdown measures as the virus has kept spreading despite some of the tightest restrictions in Europe.
In Italy, there were protests against lockdown restrictions on Monday, with violence reported in Milan and Turin.
A lack of progress towards US fiscal stimulus also dampened sentiment.
Currency markets did not show risk-aversion to the same extent as equities, with the dollar holding firm against a basket of currencies at 93.036 at 0845 GMT.
The riskier Australian and New Zealand dollar saw small gains .
The euro was flat against the dollar and euro-sterling was also steady .
Euro zone government bond yields were broadly steady, with little appetite for major moves before Thursday’s European Central Bank meeting. The benchmark 10-year German Bund was at -0.578 percent.
Oil prices rose after recent sharp losses, but sentiment was still muted, with Brent crude up 48 cents, or 1.19 percent, at US$40.94 a barrel at 0900 GMT. US oil gained 39 cents, or 1.01 percent, to US$38.95 a barrel.
On the vaccine front, hopes rose after AstraZeneca said on Monday its shot developed with the University of Oxford produced an immune response in both young and old adults.
But sentiment was dampened by a UK study, which found that antibodies against the new coronavirus declined rapidly in the British population during summer, suggesting protection after infection may not be long-lasting.
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