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GLOBAL MARKETS-Investors favor safe bets as political fears persist
April 12, 2017 / 3:41 PM / in 6 months

GLOBAL MARKETS-Investors favor safe bets as political fears persist

* Wall Street stocks fall, defensive sectors popular

* Gold holds gains, U.S. Treasury yields unchanged

* Oil reverses gains after U.S. inventory data (Updates with U.S. markets, adds commentary, changes byline, dateline, previous LONDON)

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK, April 12 (Reuters) - Safe-haven gold and U.S. Treasuries prices held steady on Wednesday while U.S stocks edged lower as investors fretted about global geopolitical risk and the upcoming U.S. corporate earnings season.

U.S. Treasury yields were little changed as demand tied to worries about Syria and North Korea offset investor selling ahead of a 30-year bond auction.

Oil prices reversed earlier gains after a report on U.S. crude stockpiles suggested the market was still heavily supplied. On Wall Street, defensive sectors were among the brightest spots in keeping with preferences for safety.

“The geopolitical tension has not escalated but it’s not going away either,” said Mary Anne Hurley, vice president of fixed income at D.A. Davidson in Seattle.

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday North Korea was “looking for trouble” and the United States would “solve the problem” with or without China’s help the day after Pyongyang warned of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression.

However Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday stressed the need for a peaceful solution for the Korean peninsula on a call with Trump.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said trust had eroded between the United States and Russia under Trump as Moscow delivered an unusually hostile reception to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a face-off over Syria.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 55.23 points, or 0.27 percent, to 20,596.07, the S&P 500 lost 8.13 points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,345.65 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 24.92 points, or 0.42 percent, to 5,841.85.

Aside from politics investors were hoping quarterly earnings would support lofty valuations on Wall Street ahead of big bank earnings which unofficially kick off the season on Thursday.

“It would be very important what they (banks) offer as forecast because stock prices imply better times ahead and investors are looking for assurances and positive forecasts to be issued,” said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Europe’s STOXX 600 was up 0.2 percent but was well below its high of the day.

Gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,276 an ounce, its highest since Nov. 10, after jumping 1.6 percent on Tuesday.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six other major currencies, was down 0.17 percent after hitting its lowest since April 7.

The dollar was still down slightly against the yen, after falling to its lowest in nearly five months earlier in the day against the Japanese currency, a favorite in times of stress due to Japan’s position as the world’s largest creditor nation.

The dollar fell 1.2 percent against the yen on Tuesday.

U.S. benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields were little changed at 2.300 percent, seen as a key resistance level.

The 30-year bond yield was flat at 2.933 percent after falling to the lowest since Jan. 17 earlier in the day.

Oil futures turned negative after eight straight sessions of gains on the U.S. inventory data suggesting persistent oversupply.

Global benchmark Brent crude fell 0.3 percent to $56.08 a barrel, while U.S. crude shed 0.02 percent to $53.39.

Additional reporting by Richard Leong and Dion Rabouin in New York, Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru and Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Alison Williams and James Dalgleish

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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