Stocks mostly lower, bond prices rise as economic fears grow

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Stocks were broadly lower on Thursday and bond prices rose as a weak reading on U.S. employment and concerns that new COVID-19 restrictions could stifle economic recovery offset optimism about coronavirus vaccines.

FILE PHOTO: A street sign for Wall Street is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 28, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Technology shares were edging higher, as the new lockdowns reinforced expectations of demand for online services.

“The stay-at-home trade is back and boosting the Nasdaq again,” Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA in New York, wrote in a note.

The dollar eased slightly and U.S. 10-year Treasury yields fell after the U.S. reported on Thursday an unexpectedly large rise in jobless claims in the week ended Nov. 14.

The latest U.S. tally of new claims for unemployment insurance showed 742,000 compared with 711,000 the prior week and forecasts of 707,000 among economists polled by Reuters.

But continuing jobless claims declined and strong U.S. home sales in October suggest underlying strength, Citi U.S. Economics analysts said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 87.8 points, or 0.3%, to 29,350.62, while the S&P 500 .SPX was off 5.43 points, or 0.15%, to 3,562.36. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 44.48 points, or 0.38%, to 11,846.08.

The dollar index =USD fell 0.029%, with the euro EUR= down 0.03% to $1.1849.

Treasuries Benchmark 10-year notes US10YT=RR last rose 9/32 in price to yield 0.8521%, from 0.882% late on Wednesday.

The dollar had been trending higher earlier in the day, though its gains were tempered by renewed concern about further monetary easing to shore up the economy.

Positive news about possible vaccines had helped push the MSCI World Index to a record high earlier in the week, but investors pulled back as a host of countries announced record infection rates and tougher lockdowns to curb the virus’ spread.

The MSCI benchmark for global equity markets .MIWD00000PUS fell 0.45% to 610.11. Europe’s broad FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 dropped 0.75% to 1,496.62.

The weaker sentiment was partly triggered by a late sell-off in the U.S. on Wednesday after news that the country’s COVID-19 deaths had passed 250,000, setting off a host of lockdowns. New York City’s public school system, the country’s largest, halted classroom instruction.

The positive vaccine news had continued Wednesday after Pfizer PFE.N said its COVID-19 vaccine was 95% effective and it would apply for emergency U.S. authorization within days, following a similar recent report from Moderna MRNA.O.

“The vaccines news are a positive medium-term impulse for the global economic outlook and investors are trying to weigh that against the prospect of an imminent stalling of the European and U.S. recovery amid the prospect of extensions of current lockdown measures,” said Rodrigo Catril, a senior FX strategist at NAB.

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