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Stocks waver, dollar recovers on renewed growth worries

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08/15/2019 | 04:28pm EDT
Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar recovered from early weakness but a gauge of world equity performance edged lower on Thursday as concerns about global growth offset investor optimism over a surge in U.S. retail sales last month and strong Walmart earnings.

Gold prices, which have climbed almost 20% since late May on uncertainty driven by the U.S.-Sino trade spat and global growth concerns, rose after China threatened to retaliate against the latest U.S. tariffs, renewing investor unease about the row.

China called on the United States to meet it halfway on a potential trade deal as U.S. President Donald Trump said any pact would have to be on America's terms.

The yield on 30-year U.S. government debt fell to a record low below 2% and benchmark 10-year Treasury notes dropped to a three-year trough, beaten down by the U.S.-Chinese trade tensions and economic growth concerns.

Euro zone government bond yields went further into negative territory, reflecting fear of an impending global recession after the U.S. yield curve remained inverted for a second day. The inversion is a classic sign of recession.

But Walmart Inc reported strong second-quarter results and raised its earnings expectations for the year, while U.S. retail sales increased 0.7% last month after gaining 0.3% in June, the Commerce Department said.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales would rise 0.3% in July. Walmart shares closed up 6.1% at $112.69.

Graphic: U.S. yield curve inversion Aug. 14 2019 - https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/breakingviews/1/1203/1678/USYIELDCURVE.jpg

Graphic: Yield curves flattening - https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/12/4792/4749/flattening.png

Graphic: Global assets in 2019 - http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/COMMODITIES-ASSETS/010031B62XZ/index.html

Investors are caught between slowing global growth and its impact on equity markets, with few alternatives to invest in when the dividends of many stocks are higher than the interest on government debt, said Rick Meckler, a partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey.

"When you get a story like Walmart, you see the glass is half full because maybe it's not as bad as it seems. There are still companies succeeding in this environment, and that's going to cause the market to go back and forth," Meckler said.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe <.MIWD00000PUS> shed 0.14%, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index <.STOXX> lost 0.18%.

Stocks on Wall Street closed mixed after a day of choppy trade.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 99.97 points, or 0.39%, to 25,579.39. The S&P 500 gained 7 points, or 0.25%, to 2,847.6 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.32 points, or 0.09%, to 7,766.62.

The dollar recovered from early weakness against the safe-haven yen on the better-than-expected U.S. retail sales. The yen tends to benefit from geopolitical or financial stress as Japan is the world's biggest creditor nation.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.10% versus the greenback at 106.02 per dollar. The dollar index <.DXY> rose 0.11%, with the euro down 0.24% to $1.1111.

Oil prices fell more than 1%, extending the previous session's 3% drop, pressured by mounting recession concerns and a surprise boost in U.S. crude inventories.

International benchmark Brent crude fell $1.25 to settle at $58.23 a barrel. U.S. crude settled down 76 cents to $54.47.

U.S. gold futures settled up 0.2% at $1,531.20.

Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 - http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/GLOBAL-CURRENCIES-PERFORMANCE/0100301V041/index.html

Graphic: MSCI All Country World Index Market Cap - http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/GLOBAL-MARKETS/010060TL1KC/index.html

Graphic: Asia stock markets - https://product.datastream.com/dscharting/gateway.aspx?guid=516bc8cb-b44e-4346-bce3-06590d8e396b&action=REFRESH

Graphic: Asia-Pacific valuations - https://product.datastream.com/dscharting/gateway.aspx?guid=80e5bbdc-eae6-4b37-bc49-a2d8056b75de&action=REFRESH

(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Cynthia Osterman and Lisa Shumamker)

By Herbert Lash

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
DJ INDUSTRIAL 1.20% 25886.01 Delayed Quote.10.97%
NASDAQ 100 1.59% 7604.108768 Delayed Quote.20.13%
NASDAQ COMP. 1.67% 7895.993811 Delayed Quote.19.00%
S&P 500 1.44% 2888.68 Delayed Quote.15.23%
STOXX EUROPE 600 1.24% 369.63 Delayed Quote.9.47%
US DOLLAR INDEX 0.00% 98.142 End-of-day quote.1.51%
WALMART INC. 0.27% 112.99 Delayed Quote.21.30%
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