A risk-off tone gripped markets
on Wednesday, with gold, the Japanese yen and bonds rising as ten-
sion grew between the US and North Korea. European stocks slumped following declines across most of Asia.
The yellow metal headed for its largest increase in two months while the yen and Swiss franc posted the biggest gains among G-10 currencies after President Donald Trump ratcheted up his rhetoric against North Korea. Treasuries and core European government bonds climbed amid the shift to safer assets, while almost every sector of the Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell and emerging markets equities were poised for the biggest drop since June 15. The rand extended losses after South Africa’s president
survived a no-confidence vote.
Volatility gauges from the US to Japan rose after Trump said in response to a Washington Post report on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities that further threats from the country would be met with “fire and fury.” North Korea said it’s examining an operational plan for firing a ballistic missile toward Guam.
“Trump in his reactions is something new for all of us,” Geraldine Sundstrom, portfolio manager at Pimco Europe, said in an interview on Bloomberg TV. “Given the nature of the threats, given the players are new, it makes the situation a little bit unusual,” said Sundstrom, who recommended safe haven trades and minimizing risks through duration.
Europe’s index of banking stocks was one of the worst-performing groups on the main gauge, a decade after the event that marked the start of the credit crunch. BNP Paribas SA froze funds that were exposed to US subprime mortgages on Aug. 9, 2007; the European lenders’ measure is still down more than 60 percent since then. Meanwhile, China’s producer price gains held steady in July on surging commodity prices. The numbers came ahead of Friday’s US inflation data, which will provide the next clue on the interest-rate outlook for the world’s biggest economy.
UK factory output for June is due Thursday, with industrial production for France on Friday. This week’s Federal Reserve speakers aren’t done: keep a keen ear out for comments by New York Fed boss Bill Dudley on Thursday. Argentina, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Serbia and Zambia set monetary policy.
The Stoxx Europe 600 Index declined 1 percent as of 8:52 a.m. in New York, the largest drop in more than a week. The MSCI All-Country World Index sank 0.3 percent. The UK’s FTSE 100 Index declined 0.8 percent, the first retreat in a week on a closing basis. Germany’s DAX Index decreased 1.4 percent to the lowest in almost 16 weeks. Futures on the S&P 500 Index sank 0.3 percent,the largest decrease in almost five weeks. The MSCI Emerging Market Index sank 0.9 percent, the biggest dip in almost eight weeks.
The euro declined 0.1 percent to $1.1745, the weakest in almost two weeks. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index decreased less than 0.05 percent. The British pound increased less than 0.05 percent to $1.2995, the first advance in a week. South Africa’s rand sank 0.7 percent to 13.4659 per dollar, the weakest in more than four weeks.
The yield on 10-year Treasuries dipped four basis points to 2.22 percent, the lowest in six weeks. Germany’s 10-year yield declined five basis points to 0.42 percent, the lowest in six weeks. Britain’s 10-year yield fell six basis points to 1.101 percent, the lowest in six weeks. France’s 10-year yield decreased four basis points to 0.719 percent, the lowest in six weeks.