Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

New York — US stocks were mixed on Tuesday, with traders unimpressed by some bank earnings reports, while the US treasury yield curve flattened and the dollar rose to a one-week high on increased inflation expectations.

World stocks’ gains petered out near record-high levels, in part because of a rally in commodities that helped underpin one of the most durable bull runs in recent history.

While Goldman Sachs and rival Morgan Stanley topped analyst expectations with their third-quarter earnings, shares of Goldman fell because earnings were fuelled by a volatile unit which has sharp revenue swings, analysts said.

European shares were flat, underpinned by solid earnings from food group Danone and education specialist Pearson, and talk of a break-up of investment bank Credit Suisse.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.2%. Meanwhile, the yield spread between US five-year and 30-year treasuries fell to its lowest since mid-November 2007, and two-year yields rose to their highest in nearly nine years after the strongest reading on US import prices in more than a year raised inflation expectations.

The US labour department said import prices jumped 0.7% last month, the biggest gain since June 2016, after an unrevised 0.6% rise in August. "Market participants are kind of hanging on to a thread of hope about inflation numbers," said Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

Speculation that US President Donald Trump was leaning towards nominating Stanford economist John Taylor to head the Federal Reserve also pushed short yields and the dollar higher.

A fourth day of gains for the dollar index, which hit a one-week high, was also supported by broad-based weakness for the euro and the pound.

"Taylor is perceived as more hawkish than [Janet] Yellen, so under his potential tutelage, the central bank might lift borrowing rates more aggressively, which would bolster the dollar’s allure," said Joe Manimbo, senior marker analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington.

German bunds and UK gilts had initially followed US yields higher. British and eurozone inflation figures both came in strong to bolster bets on the first UK rate rise in more than a decade and stimulus withdrawal from the European Central Bank.

The moves then unraveled after comments from Bank of England policy makers that were interpreted as dovish, with the euro and sterling falling. "Comments coming [from Bank of England policy makers] uniformly signalled a dovish and cautious stance among policy makers and indicated a growing debate internally on the path for interest rates going forward," said Neil Jones, Mizuho’s head of currency sales for hedge funds in London.

Oil prices reversed course after Monday’s gains, which came as fighting between Iraqi and Kurdish forces threatened supplies from northern Iraq while tension rose between the US and Iran.

US crude fell 0.98% to $51.36 per barrel and Brent was last at $57.36, down 0.8%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 20.46 points, or 0.09%, to 22,977.42, the S&P 500 lost 0.85 points, or 0.03%, to 2,556.79 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.52 points, or 0.01%, to 6,624.52.

Bellwether industrial metal copper dropped 1.4% to $7,034.50 a tonne on the stronger dollar after soaring to a three-year high on Monday.


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