NEW YORK (Reuters) – World shares fell on Friday, retreating from Thursday’s record peak as investors worried about valuations, while the dollar posted its largest daily gain since late February.
MSCI’s broadest gauge of world shares still achieved its strongest month since November. The index, which covers 50 markets, shed 0.92%.
U.S. indices closed lower after the S&P 500 hit at a record high on Thursday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 185.51 points, or 0.54%, to 33,874.85, the S&P 500 lost 30.3 points, or 0.72%, to 4,181.17 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 119.87 points, or 0.85%, to 13,962.68.
Investors have been ebullient in recent weeks although some have questioned the rally’s lightning pace and worry that the economic recovery and fiscal stimulus may already be priced in.
Traders are starting to focus more on value stocks, said Dennis Dick, a trader at Bright Trading LLC.
“You wonder if this is a period where value is going to continue to outperform growth,” he said. “We didn’t care at all about valuations last year but we’re starting to care about them now.”
Data on Thursday showed U.S. economic growth accelerated in the first quarter, fueled by massive government aid to households and businesses. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve gave reassurances that it was not yet ready to discuss changing its easy monetary policy.
Data showing a 4.2% rebound in U.S. consumer spending in March, amid a 21.1% surge in income as households received additional government aid, supported the dollar.
The dollar index, a measure of the greenback’s value against a basket of major peers, rose 0.735%.
However, the index was still heading for its worst monthly performance since July 2020.
U.S. Treasury yields eased as investors purchased the debt to rebalance investor portfolios for month-end, despite fears of higher inflation as businesses reopen.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 4/32 in price to yield 1.6276%, from 1.64% late on Thursday.
With just over a half of S&P 500 companies reporting earnings, about 87% beat market expectations, according to Refinitiv, the highest level in recent years.
“The Federal Reserve continues to support, Biden has this huge stimulus program as well and … so far we have seen relatively benign as well as strong earnings,” said Eddie Cheng, head of international multi-asset portfolio management at Wells Fargo Asset Management.
For both the MSCI world index and the S&P 500, analysts are expecting earnings to recover in the next 12 months to above pre-pandemic levels.
European stocks ended lower after dismal economic data stalled optimism about the recovery, but notched a third straight month of gains.
The pan-regional STOXX 600 index fell 0.3%, hovering below its all-time high and ending the month 1.8% higher.
Euro zone GDP data showed a year-on-year drop of 1.8% in the first quarter, stronger than expectations of a 2% fall.
“There is increasingly bright light at the end of the tunnel,” Commerzbank analysts said.
“The speed of the vaccinations is picking up and the EU recovery fund is also finally getting off the ground.”
Graphic: Euro zone economic growth and stocks – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/bdwpkbxmzvm/EZGDP3004.PNG
New coronavirus infections in India surged to a record, however, and France’s health minister said dangers of the COVID-19 variant present in India must not be underestimated.
“Risky assets have had quite a few wobbles within the month. … this is not going to be a straight line,” said Cheng.
The euro fell 0.80% following the euro zone data. In the previous session, the single currency had extended its bull run to a two-month high of $1.2150.
“The euro is more sensitive to the European economic outlook, than to (what) happens in the U.S.,” said Kit Juckes, head of FX strategy at Societe Generale.
Oil prices fell on concerns about wider lockdowns in India and Brazil.
Brent crude futures settled down $1.30, or 1.9%, at $67.26 a barrel. U.S. crude futures settled down $1.47, or 2.26%, at $63.54 per barrel.
U.S. crude futures settled at $63.58 per barrel, down 2.2%. Brent crude futures settled at
Spot gold dropped 0.3% to $1,766.89 an ounce. U.S. gold futures settled 0.14% lower at $1,767.30 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by Carolyn Cohn in London; editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa, Raju Gopalakrishnan, William Maclean; Editing by Toby Chopra, Frances Kerry, Sonya Hepinstall and David Gregorio)