Stock indexes around the world fell on Thursday as technology shares resumed their recent sell-off, while the prospect of tighter monetary policy in the United States and Britain pushed up the dollar. Energy stocks also fell as high global inventories pressured oil prices. Investors have been selling tech shares, which have led market gains this year. The S&P 500 technology index ended down 0.5 percent, but well off its lows for the day. The tech index was pulled down by heavyweights, including Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc after bearish research comments. The S&P energy index lost 0.7 percent.
“The fundamentals in general still look favorable for tech. What we’ve seen, though, are some downgrades that are based on the fact that some ran up too quickly… and it has engendered a lot of fire sales in the tech industry,” said Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 14.66 points, or 0.07 percent, to 21,359.9, the S&P 500 lost 5.46 points, or 0.22 percent, to 2,432.46 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 29.39 points, or 0.47 percent, to 6,165.50. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ended down 0.3 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe fell 0.8 percent. Wednesday’s interest rate hike by the U.S Federal Reserve, along with its signal that another hike could follow this year, also weighed on stocks.
While the hike was widely expected, some investors said the central bank’s tone was more hawkish and that raised concern about the pace of U.S. economic growth. “Monetary policy got hawkish,” said John Augustine, chief investment officer at Huntington National Bank in Columbus, Ohio.
In a sign that the squeeze on consumers may get tighter before long, three Bank of England policymakers voted to raise rates, against five who preferred keeping rates on hold. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 7-1 vote in favor of no change. The dollar rose to its highest in more than two weeks as solid readings on the U.S. economy helped strengthen the case for the Fed to continue tightening.
The number of Americans filing unemployment claims fell more than expected last week, suggesting slack in the labor market was shrinking, and the Philadelphia Fed business conditions survey for June beat expectations after a strong reading in May. The reports followed weak U.S. inflation data on Wednesday. The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against six major peers, was last up 0.6 percent and rose as high as 97.557, its highest since May 30. The stronger-than-expected U.S. economic data also boosted most US Treasury yields, while traders weighed the hawkish Federal Reserve and Bank of England signals.
Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields were last at 2.160 percent, up from 2.138 percent late Wednesday. On Wednesday, benchmark yields hit 2.103 percent, their lowest since Nov. 10. The surprisingly weak inflation and other data overshadowed the Fed’s rate hike. Brent crude settled down 8 cents at $46.92 a barrel, while U.S. crude settled down 27 cents at $44.46, after touching a six-month low of $44.32 a barrel. The stronger dollar weighed on gold, which hit a three-week low. Spot gold fell 0.5 percent to $1,254.05 an ounce.