NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks inched lower on Thursday after a vote on President Donald Trump’s healthcare bill was delayed, casting doubt over the prospects of Trump’s pro-growth policies, while European shares rose on bank borrowing and oil prices slipped.
The U.S. House of Representatives delayed a vote on legislation to begin dismantling Obamacare as Trump and leaders in Congress laboured to find enough support among fellow Republicans for their version of a new federal healthcare policy, according to a senior House Republican aide. [nL2N1H01GV]
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI closed down 4.72 points, or 0.02 percent, at 20,656.58. The S&P 500 .SPX ended down 2.49 points, or 0.11 percent, at 2,345.96. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC closed down 3.95 points, or 0.07 percent, at 5,817.69.
In Europe, equity markets gained as banks took up 233.5 billion euros of four-year loans in the European Central Bank’s last targeted longer-term refinancing operation, well above the 125 billion euros expected in a Reuters poll. That suggested banks are keen to stock up on cheap cash in anticipation of a continued rise in lending.
Some investors also said they were upbeat about prospects for European equities despite political risks and that Trump fears were overdone.
Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 ended 0.78 percent higher, at 1,486.95 to notch its biggest daily gain in more than three weeks.
MSCI’s all-country world equity index .MIWD00000PUS was last up 0.56 point, or 0.13 percent, at 447.48.
Analysts have warned that losing or delaying Trump’s healthcare bill would bruise investors’ confidence in Trump’s ability to deliver on his promises of tax cuts and infrastructure spending.
Concerns about delays in fiscal reform helped send stocks lower earlier this week, with the benchmark U.S. S&P 500 index hitting five-week lows and Europe’s FTSEurofirst 300 index hitting roughly two-week lows on Wednesday.
“The longer everything takes, the longer it is before the Trump policies can start impacting corporate earnings,” said Michael Jones, chief investment officer of RiverFront Investment Group in Richmond, Virginia. “And that’s where the market will see its disappointment, just on how long everything takes.”
Prices for safe-haven spot gold touched a more than three-week high of $1,253.12 an ounce XAU= and the dollar touched a fresh four-month low against the Japanese yen JPY= of 110.64 yen. While gold prices dipped later in the session, the dollar remained slightly weaker against the yen.
If the House does not approve the healthcare proposal, “it would be dollar-negative and somewhat negative also for general risk appetite,” said Alvise Marino, FX strategist at Credit Suisse in New York.
Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note US10YT=RR prices edged lower, with yields last at 2.412 percent after touching a more than three-week low of 2.375 percent Wednesday.[nL2N1H01LQ][nL2N1GZ1PZ]
Oil prices struggled to recover from four-month lows amid investor concerns that OPEC-led supply cuts were not yet reducing record U.S. crude inventories.
Brent crude oil prices LCOc1 settled down 8 cents, or 0.16 percent, at $50.56 a barrel. U.S. crude CLc1 settled down 34 cents, or 0.71 percent, at $47.70.
Additional reporting by Marc Jones and Edmund Blair in London, Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru, Noel Randewich and Saqib Iqbal Ahmed in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and James Dalgleish