World stocks edge lower; Wall Street at record

Image: A pedestrian stands to look at an electronic board showing the stock market indices of various countries outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks on major world markets slipped on Friday in the wake of back-to-back sessions of record highs, as investors awaited clarity on U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax and trade policies.

Despite the decline, the MSCI All-Country World index was higher for a fourth straight week, its longest winning streak in a nearly a year, after rising to a record high on Thursday on positive signs of global economic growth.

Wall Street managed a slight gain to push each of the major indexes to a fresh record. A jump in consumer staples, up 0.7 percent, offset declines in financial stocks, down 0.03 percent, and the energy sector, off 0.5 percent.

Banks had provided a boost earlier in the week when U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen gave testimony that appeared to open the door for a rate hike in March.

“Financials particularly are going higher than people think, so I would not be a seller of these types of stocks just because they rallied,” said Andrew Slimmon, portfolio manager at Morgan Stanley Investment Management in Chicago.

Markets have also been supported by expectations of concrete fiscal plans from the Trump administration, which vowed last week to announce a tax reform plan in the coming weeks. The S&P 500 has not registered a decline of 1 percent or more since October 11.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 4.28 points, or 0.02 percent, to 20,624.05, the gained 3.94 points, or 0.17 percent, to 2,351.16 and the Nasdaq Composite added 23.68 points, or 0.41 percent, to 5,838.58.

For the week, the Dow rose 1.7 percent, the S&P 500 climbed 1.5 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 1.8 percent.

U.S. markets will be closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

European stocks finished slightly higher as a surge in Unilever shares offset a decline in banking and mining stocks.

MSCI’s benchmark global equity index lost 0.13 percent to 443.93 points, retreating from a record high of 444.94 on Thursday. Europe’s index of leading 300 stocks closed 0.04 percent higher.

The dollar, up 0.5 percent, improved versus most peers with the exception of the yen, leaving it little changed on the week following Yellen’s mildly hawkish view and surprisingly strong U.S. data on retail sales and consumer prices.

The yen rose against major currencies. Concerns about the upcoming French elections and a lack of movement in fiscal changes in the United States stoked safe-haven demand for the Japanese currency.

U.S. Treasury prices gained as concerns over the French election and weak data in Britain added to risk aversion, hurting stock markets and boosting demand for safe-haven U.S. debt.

“We have French elections, which could kind of throw things for a loop here. That is starting to poke up in the market talking circles,” said David Schiegoleit managing director at U.S. Bank Private Client Reserve in Los Angeles.

Benchmark 10-year notes were last up 8/32 in price to yield 2.4218 percent, down from 2.45 percent late on Thursday, after touching a one-week low of 2.4.

Oil edged higher on the session but was lower for the week, as rising U.S. drilling and record stockpiles faced efforts by major producers to cut output to reduce a global glut.

Brent crude settled up 0.3 percent to $55.81 while U.S. crude edged up 0.07 percent to settle at $53.40 a barrel.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chris Reese and Nick Zieminski)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.


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