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Stocks make little progress, dollar rises against yen after BoJ decision

by Jessica Weisman-Pitts
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Stocks make little progress, dollar rises against yen after BoJ decision

By Sinéad Carew and Amanda Cooper

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) -MSCI’S global equities index was down slightly with a mixed bag of U.S. earnings reports while the dollar rose against the yen after the Bank of Japan left monetary policy unchanged.

U.S. Treasury yields rose as investors sought a greater return for the risk of taking on rising government debt issuance before $162 billion in shorter-term Treasuries are auctioned this week.

Oil prices on Tuesday handed back some of the previous day’s gains, as traders weighed rising crude supply in Libya and Norway against production outages in the United States and geopolitical tensions.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 49 nations, lost 0.05% after hitting its highest level since late December on Monday. The Dow Industrial Average was down while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were roughly flat.

“It’s difficult for investors to really jump in at these levels with global problems occurring. You’re just seeing strength in some names that have shown an ability to produce profits in a tough environment,” said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments, a family investment office in New Vernon, New Jersey.

3M shares tumbled after it forecast dour annual earnings due to weak demand, while Verizon Communications shares rallied after it forecast a strong annual profit and said quarterly subscriber additions were at a near two-year high.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 129.62 points, or 0.34%, to 37,872.19, the gained 1.49 points, or 0.03%, to 4,851.92 and the gained 20.74 points, or 0.13%, to 15,381.02. Europe’s STOXX 600 index fell 0.16%.

Earlier, Hong Kong stocks staged a rebound to close up 2.6% after slumping the previous session, when foreign outflows gathered pace and short selling surged.

After China’s cabinet pledged to take measures to stabilise market confidence, the Shanghai SE composite index showed a muted recovery, rising 0.5%, after touching a five-year low on Monday. One option is mobilising some 2 trillion yuan ($278.53 billion) to support the stock market, Bloomberg News reported.

“The one positive for the market today was the suggestion China would be moving towards supporting their stock market,” said Meckler, who noted that China has been a concern for institutional investors.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Japan kept interest rates in negative territory, but signalled conviction that conditions for phasing out its ultra-loose monetary policy were falling into place.

Currency trading was volatile after the news. The dollar last rose 0.2% against the yen to 148.38 after earlier falling to a session low of 146.97.

The European Central Bank (ECB) meets on Thursday and is expected to hold monetary policy steady. The Fed is also expected to keep rates steady when it meets next week.

In Treasuries, the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose to 4.1378% compared with its U.S. close of 4.094% on Monday. The two-year yield, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 4.4104% compared with a U.S. close of 4.376%.

U.S. crude ticked up 0.33% to $75.01 a barrel. Brent crude rose to $80.15 per barrel.

Spot gold rose 0.32% to $2,027.39 an ounce as investors awaited a slew of U.S. economic data this week for more clarity on the Fed’s interest rate cut timeline.

(Additional reporting by Stella Qiu in Sydney and Ankur Banerjee in Singapore; Editing by Kim Coghill, Bernadette Baum, Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Macfie)