May 25, 2017

Lackluster Open on Wall Street

Stocks on Wall Street were flat on Monday after the rating agency Standard Poor’s upgraded its outlook for United States credit, and as last week’s employment report eased investor jitters that the Federal Reserve could slow the pace of its stimulus efforts in the very near term.

The Standard Poor’s 500-share index was unchanged in early trading, and the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.1 percent. The Nasdaq composite was flat.

Stock futures had risen after S.P. raised its outlook on United States sovereign credit to stable from negative.

With an absence of domestic economic news on Monday, investors could use the news as a reason to push the market rally higher.

“This is great news, and good to hear, but Wall Street traders don’t put a lot of emphasis on rating agencies,” said Todd Schoenberger, managing partner at LandColt Capital in New York.

Other news came from Japan, where data showed the country’s economy grew at a much quicker pace in the first quarter than had been previously estimated, an encouraging sign for the Japanese government’s aggressive plan to bolster growth. The Nikkei index jumped 4.9 percent after the data was released.

A report released on Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said that major economies were gradually gaining momentum, led by faster growth in Japan and the United States.

But other data over the weekend pointed to risks that China’s economic growth would fall further in the second quarter. Export growth in May was weak in China, the world’s second-largest economy after that of the United States, while imports fell.

European shares were mixed by early afternoon, having first fallen when mining stocks were hurt by the weak Chinese data.

“China is the elephant in the room,” said a Saxo Bank strategist, Steen Jakobsen, adding that the latest data “shows that real growth in the country is at best 5 percent right now, which means the growth component of the earnings of companies needs to be adjusted.”

Among American companies, McDonald’s said sales at its established restaurants around the world rose in May, sending its shares up 1.6 percent in early trading.

With an absence of domestic economic news on Monday, investors are likely to continue to digest last Friday’s United States job market report, which showed that the economy added 175,000 jobs in May. Markets have been bumpy in recent weeks as investors have tried to determine when the Fed may slow its $85 billion a month bond-buying program.

“It wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t too cold,” Rockwell Global Capital’s chief market economist, Peter Cardillo, said of the employment report.

“Due to global economic weakness, and modest growth here in the States,” he said, “the Fed rhetoric will likely tone down, and I think the markets will be convinced there will be no trimming of Q.E., at least not until toward the end of the year.”

“That should re-energize the bulls,” he said.

Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, takes the stage at the company’s annual developers’ conference on Monday, this time to reveal what is expected to be a more modern-looking mobile operating system.

AstraZeneca, the British drugmaker, is to buy a respiratory drug specialist, Pearl Therapeutics, for up to $1.15 billion as part of its drive to rebuild its product pipeline via deal-making.

Decades-old laws barring foreign ownership of farmland in Iowa, Missouri and at least three other Midwest states may complicate the planned purchase by China’s Shuanghui International of the American pork company Smithfield Foods for $4.7 billion.

In currency markets, the dollar gained 1.4 percent, to 98.90 yen, extending a recovery from two-month lows hit on Friday. Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar rose 0.25 percent after experiencing its biggest weekly fall since January 2012 last week.

The yen’s fall, which improves the outlook for the country’s exporters, was a factor in the Nikkei’s 4.9 percent rise on Monday, its biggest one-day gain since March 2011. The Nikkei has now swung by more than 3 percent in all but two of the last 11 sessions, five of those by more than 4 percent, making it one of the most volatile periods in Japanese stocks since the height of the financial crisis in 2008.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/11/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix: Wall Street’s Ideal Jobs Gain: Middling

For most Americans, the hopes for Friday’s employment report are simple: the more jobs the economy created last month, the better.

On Wall Street, the anticipation is decidedly more complicated, and there is the possibility that the economy could have created too many jobs.

How could a lot of new jobs be a bad thing? As is frequently the case in the markets these days, the answer goes back to the Federal Reserve. Many investors assume that if Friday’s employment report shows an unexpected spike in new jobs, the Federal Reserve will feel more pressure to step back from its stimulus programs – or, as traders put it, to taper quantitative easing.

Investors have been worried since mid-May that the Fed may be preparing to step back from its bond-buying programs sooner than many had anticipated. That is based on the statement by the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, that the central bank could look at slowing down its bond purchases “in the next few meetings.”

But Fed officials have said they will make changes only if the economy is showing improvement. Given the market’s dependence on Fed stimulus, many on Wall Street have been left hoping that the economy does not show too many signs of improvement.

“It’s perverse,” said Ed Yardeni, the president of Yardeni Research. He said that if Friday’s jobs report showed a net gain of more than 200,000 jobs in May, it could end up hurting stock markets, at least in the short term.

Mr. Yardeni said that a very low number – anything under 100,000 — would also likely be a bad thing for markets, as it would indicate that the Fed’s stimulus was not working, leaving few options for fostering economic growth.

The right number, à la Goldilocks, is probably somewhere right in between. Analysts are expecting a number around 165,000. If it is close to that, investors are likely to conclude that economic growth is happening, but not at a rate that would lead the Fed to slow down its stimulus.

“The market will conclude it’s just more of the same,” Mr. Yardeni said.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/wall-streets-ideal-jobs-gain-middling/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix Blog: Bipartisan Agreement: Blame Washington

11:41 a.m. | Updated

Washington partisans were caught slightly off guard by a better-than-expected report on April jobs numbers. Both sides had clearly been preparing to use disappointing numbers as justification for legislative priorities. But the result was unusually parallel reactions from Democrats and Republicans, who both offered equivocal praise. Neither side was about to let the employment gains deter them from their planned messages about the evils of sequestration, in the case of Democrats, and regulation, in the case of Republicans.

The White House’s reaction was more positive than those of both its enemies and its allies.

“While more work remains to be done,” said Alan B. Krueger, chairman of the president’s Council on Economic Advisers, “today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to recover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression.”

Mr. Krueger, in a statement, added, “Now is not the time for Washington to impose self-inflicted wounds on the economy,” and urged Congress to replace a series of automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, with “balanced deficit reduction.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the majority whip, named a different set of culprits for an economy that “continues to struggle.”

In a statement, he said, “Our tax code is broken, onerous regulations make it more difficult to achieve all-American energy independence and small businesses and families across the country are filled with confusion and anxiety over the implementation of ObamaCare.”

However, other leading Republicans acknowledged “some signs of hope,” as Representative Eric Cantor, the No. 2 in the House, put it, and “some good news,” in the words of House Speaker John A. Boehner. But Mr. Boehner also said that “repealing the president’s sequester” would be crucial to growing the economy.

Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, also agrees that across-the-board cuts are problematic, but he had a different take on the source of the problem: “Our job growth would be even stronger if our economy were not hampered by the meat-ax austerity Republicans have insisted upon for the past two years, instead of working with Democrats to forge a balanced approach to deficit reduction.”

Indeed, many had thought April’s might be the first monthly report to reflect the sequestration and the resulting furloughs for federal workers, and Adam Hersh, an economist at the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group, stuck to that downbeat message:

At this pace, we will not reach full employment until June 2021. The labor market seems to be moving ahead slowly but not steadily, while automatic spending cuts mandated by the sequester have barely only begun to bite on jobs and economic growth. If we continue down the path of spending cuts and fiscal contraction demanded by sequestration, next month it will be much more than furloughed FAA workers and snarled air travelers feeling the pinch of unnecessary austerity.

Economists on the right also saw bad signs for the economy in the long term. Daniel Alpert, a managing partner at Westwood Capital known for more conservative commentary, posted on Twitter:

Jim Pethokoukis of the conservative American Enterprise Institute noted Mr. Obama’s overall failure to meet employment goals.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/bipartisan-agreement-blame-washington/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Companies Hired Less and Manufacturing Growth Slowed in April

Businesses added 119,000 employees to payrolls last month, according to the ADP National Employment Report released on Wednesday, short of economists’ expectations for 150,000 jobs and the smallest gain since last September.

The slowdown was primarily due to the effect of tighter fiscal policy through a combination of an increase in payroll taxes at the start of the year and the $85 billion government spending cuts that took effect across the board in March, said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, which jointly develops the ADP report.

“They are starting to bite and starting to weaken growth,” said Zandi. “It’s affecting all industries and almost all company sizes.”

The Federal Reserve also expressed concern about the drag on growth linked to fiscal belt-tightening and said the central bank could lift or taper the pace of its asset purchases depending on the economy’s performance.

The Fed is currently buying $85 billion a month in bonds as it tries to spur the recovery.

After reaccelerating in the first quarter, recent data suggests overall economic growth cooled heading into the second quarter, a familiar pattern seen in past years that has become known as a “spring swoon.”

This is partly due to the fiscal tightening, though growth would likely have pulled back regardless after a stronger first quarter, said David Sloan, economist at 4Cast Ltd in New York.

The U.S. economy grew at a 2.5 percent rate in the first quarter, but analysts do not expect that pace to last, with most anticipating the recovery is running at around 2 percent.

“The fact that fiscal policy is being tightened is preventing the recovery from accelerating into a strong one. It’s just keeping the recovery at a relatively modest pace,” said Sloan.

The day’s data helped drive Wall Street lower, with the benchmark SP 500 ending down nearly 1 percent.

Two separate reports on manufacturing also showed employment slowed in April as growth in the sector pulled back. Analysts said there was some risk Friday’s larger employment report from the government could disappoint.

Financial data firm Markit said its final U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index slipped to 52.1 from 54.6 in March. It was the lowest final reading since October.

That was echoed by a separate report from the Institute for Supply Management that showed the sector expanded only modestly, with its index coming in at 50.7, down from 51.3.

Readings above 50 indicate expansion. Regional reports also showed a slowdown in factory activity in April in some areas while some, including the Midwest, fell into contraction.

Another report showed construction spending fell 1.7 percent to an annual rate of $856.72 billion, the lowest since August, according to the Commerce Department. The drop could cause the first-quarter economic growth estimate to be trimmed from a first reading of 2.5 percent.

Demand for cars also waned in April, with U.S. auto sales slowing to their lowest monthly pace since last fall.

Focus will turn to Friday’s jobs report from the Labor Department, which is expected to show overall nonfarm payrolls increased by 145,000, an improvement over the paltry 88,000 seen in March. Private payrolls are expected to have risen by 160,000.

Underlying jobs growth is now likely around 125,000 a month, Zandi said, down from what looked like a pace of 175,000 at the beginning of the year. March private payrolls from ADP were revised down to an increase of 131,000 from the previously reported 158,000.

Economists sometimes tweak their payrolls forecasts following the ADP report, though the private-sector report does not always accurately predict the government figures.

Since ADP overhauled its employment report late last year, it has missed the government figures by an average of 40,000 a month in either direction, according to Jim O’Sullivan, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics.

That is better than the 58,000 average miss in the previous 12 months, but with only six months’ worth of the new ADP report, the history is not yet conclusive, said O’Sullivan.

(Additional reporting by Richard Leong in New York and Lucia Mutikani in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2013/05/01/business/01reuters-usa-economy.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Drop in Jobless Claims Counteracts March Data

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 42,000 to a seasonally adjusted 346,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday, unwinding a jump in the previous week that appeared related to difficulties adjusting the data for seasonal variations.

It was the largest weekly drop since mid-November. Economists, who had expected first-time applications for jobless aid to fall only to 365,000, said the decline suggested that the sharp slowdown in employment growth in March had been an aberration.

“We will see more job creation this month than we did in March, and today’s jobless claims numbers are consistent with that expectation,” said Robert A. Dye, chief economist at Comerica.

Employers added only 88,000 workers to payrolls in March — the smallest number in nine months — after a solid 268,000 increase in February.

Economists said the jobless claims data suggested that the slowdown in job creation reflected seasonal hiring being brought forward rather than underlying weakness in the labor market.

“All the March employment report provided a hint of is that jobs that normally would have got hired in March, some of them got hired earlier in February,” said Michael H. Strauss, chief economist at Commonfund.

Jobless claims are now back at the lower end of their range for this year, suggesting the labor market recovery remains on track.

The four-week moving average for new jobless claims, a better measure of labor market trends, increased 3,000 to 358,000. It remains close to a level economists normally associate with payroll gains of about 150,000 a month.

A second report from the Labor Department showed little sign of inflation. Import prices slipped 0.5 percent last month after rising 0.6 percent in February.

In the 12 months to March, import prices dropped 2.7 percent. Prices last month were subdued by a drop in the cost of petroleum and a strong dollar.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/12/business/economy/drop-in-jobless-claims-counteracts-march-data.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Market Climbs Higher as Jobless Claims Slip

The stock market rose for a fourth straight day on Thursday, sending the Dow Jones industrial average and the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index to new milestones as positive data on the labor market and an encouraging retail outlook eased recent concerns about economic growth.

Despite the S. P. 500’s gain of 11.7 percent this year, investors have been concerned about the pace of the economic recovery, especially after the weak March employment report last week.

New claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected in the latest week, dropping to the lower end of the range for the year. In another sign that the economy might be in better shape than some recent data had indicated, retail executives and analysts forecast improved same-store sales in April after mixed results in March.

Several of the S. P. 500’s top percentage gainers were retailers, with Ross Stores gaining 5.9 percent to $63.80; L Brands, formerly known as Limited Brands, gaining 4.3 percent to $50.25, and J. C. Penney gaining 5.5 percent at $14.86.

“This data is especially welcome on the heels of last week’s jobs report, and it just adds to the tremendous demand that there continues to be for equities,” said Leo Grohowski, chief investment officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management. “The money that has been waiting for a pullback is running out of patience.”

Still, the Nasdaq composite index’s gains were limited as technology stocks sold off after an industry report that showed shipments of personal computers fell significantly in the first quarter.

Hewlett-Packard slid 6.5 percent to $20.88 as the S. P. 500’s top percentage loser, followed by Microsoft, down 4.5 percent at $28.93. Microsoft was also affected after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to sell from neutral, citing “worsening PC trends and a lack of traction in tablets and smartphones.”

H.P. and Microsoft are Dow components, but the index drew plenty of strength from other members. Three of the blue-chip average’s five biggest gainers — Pfizer, Boeing and Home Depot — all hit 52-week highs.

The Dow industrials gained 62.90 points, or 0.42 percent, to close at 14,865.14. The S. P. 500 rose 5.64 points, or 0.36 percent, to 1,593.37. The Nasdaq edged up 2.90 points, or 0.09 percent, to 3,300.16.

“It’s amazing to me that we’re already a few points away from our midyear target of 1,600, which had seemed somewhat aggressive,” Mr. Grohowski said, referring to the S. P. 500. “But there’s still skepticism about the market and tons of cash on the sidelines, which encourages me that the market can continue to pull higher.”

The Dow received its biggest boost from the drug maker Pfizer, up 2.4 percent at $30.64 after JPMorgan Chase raised its target price on the company’s stock to $33 from $32.

Acadia Pharmaceuticals surged 64.4 percent to $13.10 after the drug maker said data from an initial late-stage trial would be sufficient to file for approval for its experimental antipsychotic drug for Parkinson’s disease patients.

In the bond market, interest rates eased. The price of the Treasury’s 10-year note rose 4/32, to 101 28/32, while its yield slipped to 1.79 percent, from 1.81 percent late Wednesday.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/12/business/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Stocks Fall After Disappointing Data

Stocks on Wall Street ended moderately lower on Wednesday after weak readings on service-sector growth and private-sector employment.

The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index closed down 1.1 percent, the Dow Jones industrial average was 0.8 percent lower, and the Nasdaq composite index slid 1.1 percent. The S.P. 500 had been near its record level of 1,576.09 points for the last several sessions.

Investors had expected market movements to be modest ahead of the release on Friday of the closely watched nonfarm payrolls report for March, with few major trading catalysts before then.

But stocks continued to fall through the day. The latest ADP National Employment Report showed 158,000 private sector jobs were added in March, and the Institute for Supply Management said its services index fell to 54.4 last month.

“People aren’t worried about employment compared to the overall macro outlook, and they have a general idea that the economy is improving,” said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at John Thomas Financial in New York. “That should allow us to hold firm.”

While data has largely been positive and helped to propel the equity market in the first quarter, a few disappointments have made investors cautious. “Some data has indicated softening, but things should remain quiet until Friday,” Mr. Kaufman said.

In company news, Zynga surged 9 percent said it would begin offering poker and casino-style games in Britain in partnership with Bwin. party Digital Entertainment.

ConAgra Foods fell 0.7 percent. The company reported third-quarter earnings that fell 57 percent even as revenue grew.

Monsanto rose 1.6 percent after reporting earnings that beat expectations and raising its full-year profit forecast.

Verizon Communications ruled out a full takeover of Vodafone, turning the focus yet again to whether the two telecommunication giants can do a deal over their Verizon Wireless joint venture. New York-listed shares of Vodafone fell 2.9 percent, while Verizon was off 0.4 percent.

Issues in the euro zone will continue to be in focus a day after Cyprus concluded a bailout deal. The plan, which still requires ratification, would mean the country receives a 10 billion euro loan, and that it has until 2018 to carry out measures to shore up its finances. The country’s finance minister resigned after concluding the deal.

While investors have tended to use any market decline as a buying opportunity, the situation in Cyprus has been a major source of market uncertainty in recent weeks. European markets were flat to slightly lower in afternoon trading Wednesday.

Wall Street stocks rose on Tuesday, lifted by health care stocks, after a government decision on payment rates. Strong factory orders data also added to the positive tone.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/04/business/economy/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

After Cashing In on Job Cuts, Wall St. Looks to Worker Upturn

Wall Street is hopeful that American companies, after years of gaining ground at the expense of their employees, will start to succeed because of the rising fortune of those workers.

Less than a week since the Dow Jones industrial average hit its all-time high, the broader Standard Poor’s 500-stock index is on track to surpass its own 2007 high. The reason, in no small part, is because of investor confidence in the growing economic strength of American households.

This is a shift from the last few years, when stocks and corporate profits soared primarily because of cost-cutting and increased productivity from a shrinking or slow-growing work force. The Federal Reserve’s stimulus programs helped corporate America, but they did little to help improve the lives of most American workers, whose wages declined while unemployment remained stuck at high levels.

A surprisingly good employment report on Friday was the strongest of a number of recent indicators that the benefits of the Fed’s program are now starting to trickle down to ordinary Americans, who should, in turn, push up sales at American companies. In addition to brisk job growth in recent months, the February employment report gave some of the first evidence of a sustained upturn in wages, and showed that it was spread across many industries.

The improving job market could falter, particularly if cutbacks in government spending mandated by the so-called sequester take a substantial bite out of economic growth. But even a more modest upturn comes not a moment too soon for American companies.

Growth in corporate profits has slowed in recent quarters as the earlier gains from productivity and cost-cutting reached their limits. Many strategists are now seeing signs that the slowdown in expense reduction — the so-called bottom line — is being made up for by top-line growth in revenues from reviving American consumers.

“You can only cut and cut and cut for so long, eventually you have to have growth,” said Paul Hickey, a founder of the Bespoke Investment Group. “Now we’re starting to see some signs that is happening.”

In the fourth quarter, American companies experienced the biggest increase in sales per share of any quarter since the financial crisis, according to figures from RBS Securities. In announcing their most recent financial results, many executives spoke about the boost they have gotten from American customers, and the money they are putting back into the pockets of their own employees.

Daniel S. Fulton, the chief executive of Weyerhaeuser Company, a timber company, told investors in January, “Most of the hiring that we have done in the company has been production employees that we’ve been putting back to work, in order to be able to ramp up and respond to the increased opportunities for wood products.” The improving prospects for corporate revenues are encouragement to hesitant investors who have been wondering whether to get back into the stock market but worried that the current rally could already be reaching its peak. After six straight days of gains, the S. P. 500 closed Friday just 14 points, or 0.9 percent, from the record high of 1,565.15 it hit in October 2007. Factoring in inflation, however, the index is still far from earlier peaks, as is the Dow.

The sequestration’s automatic spending cuts have not yet appeared in economic data and there are fears it could exert a future drag on the economic recovery. But Friday’s employment report — showing a gain of 236,000 jobs and a dip in the jobless rate to 7.7 percent — suggested that American businesses have largely shrugged off the 2 percentage point increase in the payroll tax that was expected to inflict more pain.

Even if corporate revenues climb further, it won’t necessarily lead to rising share prices. Investors have already factored the optimistic economic signs while making their investments. What’s more, skeptical strategists say there are significant threats ahead for both consumers and corporations. The basic fear in trading circles is that the economic recovery will not be able to survive the Fed’s ending its bond-buying programs. When the Fed does step back from its support for the market, it is expected to send up interest rates, which could dampen lending and the housing market.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/business/economy/after-corporate-upswing-hopes-grow-for-a-consumer-revival.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix Blog: Jobs Outlook Remains Tepid

Jobs and the Election

A weekly tracker.

This week’s economic data has come in broadly as expected, leaving the forecasters at Moody’s Analytics to continue to forecast that job growth will be slower in August — but still faster than it was in the spring. The latest post on Moody’s Dismal Scientist blog explains:

Labor market data over the past week confirm that August has been a sluggish month for job creation. We still look for a 145,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls, not far from July’s 163,000 gain and above the second quarter average of 73,000. The unemployment rate likely edged down to 8.2% this month from July’s 8.3%. While improving slowly, the U.S. job market is generating little wage income growth, which will be felt as rising gasoline and food prices test consumers’ resilience.

The Moody’s assessment, however, goes on to cite “reasons for concern that the August numbers could undershoot our forecast,” including a rise in the four-week moving average of continuing claims for unemployment benefits, a weakening index of consumer confidence and a region-by-region Fed report (known as the beige book) that was “not upbeat about the health of the job market.” It adds:

Each employment report is important, but this month’s will be especially so, as it comes as the Fed considers new round of quantitative easing. If the numbers are notably weaker than expected, the odds of near-term Fed action will rise.

Moody’s projections continue to indicate that the presidential election will remain close. As we’ve written previously, history suggests that average job gains between 100,000 and 175,000 in the six months before an election tend to lead to a close race.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/30/jobs-outlook-remains-tepid/?partner=rss&emc=rss

U.S. Markets Drop as Investors Worry Over Jobs and Banks

Wall Street took a tumble at the opening of trading Tuesday, taking cues from markets in Europe and Asia. Analysts said that the drop, which hit financial stocks particularly hard, was a carry-over from last week’s disappointing unemployment report in the United States and from news that major American banks were facing a federal lawsuit related to their handling of mortgage securities.

In the United States, economic data was scrutinized for any signs of strength in the country’s recovery. The Institute for Supply Management said Tuesday that the services sector of the nation’s economy expanded in August, the 21st consecutive month it has done so, as reflected in the 53.3 reading on the I.S.M. index, although the expansion in some sectors like business activity were slowing down.

The survey exceeded forecasts assembled by Bloomberg News that pointed to a 51 reading. A reading of 50 is meant to be the dividing line between an expanding and a contracting economy.

Just past noon, the Dow Jones industrial average of 30 stocks was down 1.9 percent, or 214.56 points, to 11,025.70. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index lost 1.9 percent, and the Nasdaq composite fell 1.7 percent.

The losses were reminiscent of those on Friday, when the Labor Department reported zero job growth in the United States economy in August.

“Friday set the tone with the employment report,” said Michael A. Mullaney, vice president of the Fiduciary Trust Company, and markets in Europe and Asia picked up the pessimistic baton on Monday. Debt concerns related to the euro zone, particularly over Greece and Italy; the bank lawsuits in the United States; and worries about economic growth were the biggest factors damping prices, Mr. Mullaney and other analysts said.

“We are basically hard struck to find out where the growth engines are going to come from,” Mr. Mullaney said.

Bank shares were hammered in the United States. Bank of America and Citigroup were each down more than 3 percent, after being lower by more than 5 percent. The financial, energy and industrial sectors each declined more than 2 percent.

Government bond prices were lower, with the yield on the United States 10-year note at 1.981 percent.

But most of the focus in the markets has been on the impact of global issues, and the market turmoil of recent weeks showed no signs of letting up. On Tuesday, gold rose to another nominal high, and the Swiss authorities took action to weaken the franc, which has soared because of its role as a haven.

A lack of progress in solving persistent euro zone debt problems “is creating a pocket of selling with no buyers,” said Alan B. Lancz, the president of Alan B. Lancz Associates.

Concerns about the outlook for the global economy and the sovereign debt crisis that is haunting the euro zone have created conditions worryingly similar to those of the sell-off that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, Deutsche Bank’s chief executive, Josef Ackermann, said Monday.

On Tuesday, European shares initially posted modest gains after a withering retreat Monday that knocked more than 4.1 percent off the broad market. But the momentum faded in afternoon trading, with the Euro Stoxx 50 index, a barometer of euro zone blue chips, down 1.3 percent and the FTSE 100 index in London just holding onto its gains.

Asian shares lost more ground. Having fallen 1.9 percent on Monday, the Nikkei 225 stock average in Japan sank an additional 2.2 percent on Tuesday, taking it to 8,590.57 points, its lowest close since April 2009.

“Key economic data continues to disappoint as global business sentiment surveys weakened further and the U.S. employment report printed well below market expectations,” analysts at Barclays Capital commented in a research note.

“Increasing concerns over global growth appear to have halted the brief rally in risk assets in the last week of August,” they noted, and investors are likely to remain edgy, and financial markets volatile, over the next few weeks.

Policy makers voiced similar concerns on Tuesday.

“Asia will not be immune to a global slowdown,” said Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the finance minister of Singapore, Reuters reported. “We are already at stall speed in the U.S. and Europe, which means we are now more likely than not to see a recession.”

In Zurich, the Swiss National Bank said it was setting a minimum value of 1.2 francs per euro and was prepared to spend an “unlimited” amount to defend it. The central bank was acting to help the country’s exporters, who fear being priced out of foreign markets by the strong franc.

The euro immediately rallied, rising as high as 1.24 Swiss francs from 1.11 francs late Monday. The euro has traded as low as 1.03 francs this summer.

Currency trading, which had been relatively quiet, was thrown into upheaval as the market sought a new equilibrium. The euro rose against the dollar, then fell back to $1.4083 from $1.4098 late Monday, while the British pound fell to $1.6045 from $1.6118. The dollar rose to 77.45 yen from 76.89 yen and soared to 0.8546 Swiss francs from 0.7872 francs.

Gold futures eased slightly to $1,875.30 after rising more than 1 percent to more than $1,900 an ounce in Comex trading.

David Jolly reported from Paris. Bettina Wassener contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/07/business/global/daily-stock-market-activity.html?partner=rss&emc=rss