By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks slipped on Tuesday after stronger-than-expected U.S. consumer confidence data stoked concerns about a potential Federal Reserve interest rate hike this year and technology stocks dragged, while European shares and the dollar hit multi-week highs.
The Conference Board said its consumer confidence index rose to 101.1 this month, an 11-month high. The data, which beat economists’ expectations for a dip to 97.0 according to a Reuters poll, stoked expectations that the Fed could raise rates this year after top Fed officials have said recently that such a move was possible.
Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer, in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Tuesday, said the U.S. job market is close to full strength and the pace of interest rate hikes will depend on how well the economy is doing.
Mounting expectations for a Fed hike this year boosted European financial stocks and helped the pan-European STOXX 600 <.STOXX> hit its highest level since mid-August. Banks benefit from higher interest rates, which can boost margins.
The dollar index <.DXY>, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, strengthened to a nearly three-week high of 96.064 as investors looked ahead to Friday’s jobs data. The index was last up 0.49 percent at 96.048.
“Any signs of strength make investors worry that the Fed will accelerate their plans to raise interest rates,” said Alan Gayle, head of asset allocation at Atlanta-based RidgeWorth Investments.
MSCI’s all-country world equity index <.MIWD00000PUS> was last down 0.57 points, or 0.14 percent, at 417.47.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was last down 65.3 points, or 0.35 percent, at 18,437.69. The S&P 500 <.SPX> was down 6.12 points, or 0.28 percent, at 2,174.26. The Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> was down 16.63 points, or 0.32 percent, at 5,215.69.
Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index <.FTEU3> closed up 0.50 percent, at 1,357.17.
Oil prices fell for a second straight day in response to the dollar’s strength and worries about crude oversupply. A strong greenback makes fuel purchases more expensive for countries using other currencies domestically.
U.S. Treasury yields were little changed as traders awaited the U.S. jobs data. Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields
“If higher numbers come out (on the jobs report) and we get another strong reading, that could automatically boost odds of a September rate hike,” said Ninh Chung, head of portfolio management at SVB Asset Management in San Francisco.
The stronger dollar weighed on safe-haven gold prices. Spot gold prices
(Additional reporting by Marc Jones and Kit Rees in London and Dion Rabouin and Karen Brettell in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski)