High profile visits by the Pope and China’s President Xi Jinping didn’t do much for investor sentiment. U.S. stocks got a temporary lift after Fed Chair Janet Yellen asserted she expects a rate hike this year; still, equity markets around the globe finished down to continue a string of weekly losses. Gold prices rose whereas oil prices fell. The ten-year U.S. Treasury yield rose on the week to 2.17%.
Global stock markets again had a roller coaster week. After early declines, stocks rallied until the FOMC announced that it had decided not to raise interest rates, citing concerns about weak global economic growth and low domestic inflation. As a result European and Asian bourses lost ground, with the notable exception of China. U.S. markets also fell but not enough to erase earlier gains.
The potential for a Fed interest rate hike next week was the major theme for investors during a holiday-shortened trading week. All eyes were fixed on the latest U.S. economic data before the start of the two day FOMC meeting on Wednesday. Despite high levels of volatility, U.S. markets posted gains for the week, as did most Asian and European markets.
September started off with the same kind of turbulence that characterized August. Early in the week China’s PMI fell to a three-year low, triggering a global selloff. Chinese markets closed midweek for a national holiday, which gave investors a breather and led to a brief recovery. The anxiously awaited August payroll report on Friday did not come through as hoped, however, and markets continued their slide.
After a tumultuous week, U.S and European stock markets managed to close in the black. Asian markets staged a significant comeback from steep losses early in the week, but still finished down on the week. Gold rose modestly for the week, whereas oil posted a significant gain.
Stock markets around the globe slid early in the week and then plummeted on Thursday and Friday. The Dow entered correction territory, posting its worst two-day drop since the 2008 financial crisis. Explanations for the selloff included the impact of slowing global growth on corporate earnings, aftershocks from China’s currency devaluations and emerging market vulnerability to U.S. rate hikes. The only gainers for the week were gold and government bonds. The yield on the ten-year U.S. Treasury fell to 2.05%, reversing its August climb.
U.S. stocks traded sharply down midweek as China devalued its currency, a downdraft intensified by speculation about the timing of the first Fed rate hike in almost ten years. Still, positive U.S. economic news prompted a rebound of the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq for the week. In tandem with stocks, the yield on the ten-year U.S. Treasury fell sharply before finishing the week more or less where it started. Gold rose for the week, and oil fell.
An upbeat U.S. employment report on Friday seemed strong enough to justify an interest-rate hike later this year. Riskaverse sentiment continued as a result; U.S. and European markets declined for the week, whereas Asian markets generally posted gains.
Markets rallied for the week, reversing direction from last week’s drop, despite a fall-off on Friday. Friday’s decline was due to a disappointing reading of the Q2 Employment Cost Index (ECI), which was up only 0.2% versus expectations for a 0.6% increase. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen had recently cited the ECI as a sign of a tightening labor market. Treasuries rallied on the news, while the dollar came under pressure. Volatility persisted in Chinese equity markets, with the Shanghai exchange shedding 8.5% on Monday alone.
Markets were unable to maintain the prior week’s momentum as some high-profile earnings misses combined with global growth worries to put investors in a cautious mood. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted their worst weeks since March, while the DJIA had its worst since January. Gold hit a new five-year low, while crude oil is down more than 20% from June highs.