World stocks skid as healthcare plunge obscures China rebound

World stocks skid as healthcare plunge obscures China rebound

NEW YORK,. Stocks around the globe fell yesterday as a continued flight from healthcare shares dragged on Wall Street, overshadowing upbeat economic data from China.

The S&P 500 dipped as the healthcare index dived 2.9 per cent to erase its year-to-date gains on continued fallout from concerns about potential changes to US policy, including a “Medicare for All” proposal by Senator Bernie Sanders.

“Healthcare’s lagging right now, and that’s pure regulatory risk,” said Shawn Cruz, manager of trader strategy at TD Ameritrade in Jersey City, New Jersey. “Some companies have raised guidance or shown solid growth out of their drugs, and they still were hurt.”

The decline in US stocks weighed on MSCI’s 47-country world index, which was buoyed earlier by better-than-expected Chinese data showing the country’s economy grew 6.4 per cent in the first quarter.

MSCI’s emerging market stocks index, by contrast, maintained a 0.3 per cent gain on the strength of the Chinese data.

China’s industrial output surged 8.5 per cent in March from a year earlier, the fastest pace since July 2014 and well above forecasts of a 5.9 per cent increase. Retail sales also pleased, with a rise of 8.7 per cent.

Allianz Global Investors strategist and portfolio manager Neil Dwane said the data had been good enough to allay fears that China’s economy was collapsing, although the rest of the year remained in question.

“Beijing will now be in a wait-and-see mode to gauge whether it has done enough,” Dwane said, referring to stimulus efforts. “To be bullish (on stocks) from here you would have to believe in a pretty strong global recovery in the second half… We are a bit more ho-hum.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3.12 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 26,449.54, the S&P 500 lost 6.61 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 2,900.45 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.15 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 7,996.08.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.08 per cent.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes last rose 1/32 in price to yield 2.5922 per cent, from 2.594 per cent late on Tuesday.

The euro edged up 0.1 per cent to US$1.1296 (RM4.671), recovering from losses driven by a Reuters report that several European Central Bank policymakers think the bank’s economic projections are too optimistic.

Another currency on the move was the New Zealand dollar , which sank 0.6 per cent to US$0.6721 after annual consumer price inflation came in well below expectations, at just 1.5 per cent for the first quarter.

Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar was little changed.

In commodity markets, copper touched a nine-month high on strong Chinese economic data and ended 0.9 per cent higher at US$6,556 per tonne.

Spot gold, by contrast, slipped to its lowest for the year. It was last down 0.2 per cent at US$1,274.25 per ounce.

Oil prices edged lower, reversing course from earlier gains as US government data showed inventories were drawn down less than an industry report had suggested on Tuesday.

US crude settled at US$63.76 a barrel, down 29 cents for a 0.45 per cent decline. Global benchmark Brent crude settled at US$71.62 a barrel, down 10 cents for a 0.14 per cent drop. ? Reuters