December 18, 2014
US stocks end off highs, Dow up for week; gold at 6-week lows
Global equity markets ended higher but US stocks sharply pared gains after a late selloff in biotechnology shares, while euro zone government bond yields fell on renewed bets the European Central Bank will ease policy next week.
On Wall Street, the Nasdaq biotechnology index slumped nearly 3 percent drop. The biotech sector is down 7 percent for the week and down about 13 percent for the month.
At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 58.83 points, or 0.36 percent, at 16,323.06. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 8.56 points, or 0.46 percent, to 1,857.60. The Nasdaq Composite Index finished up 4.53 points, or 0.11 percent, at 4,155.76.
Only the Dow ended the week slightly higher. For the week, the S&P slipped 0.5 percent and the technology-laced Nasdaq tumbled 3 percent, after heavy selling in the past few sessions of Internet stocks deemed overvalued.
US consumer spending rose 0.3 percent in February, the Commerce Department said, after gaining 0.2 percent in January. The gain matched economists' expectations.
MSCI's all-country world index rose 0.7 percent, and the FTSE Eurofirst 300 index of regional European shares was up 0.7 percent at 1331.67 points for a fourth straight day of gains.
In US Treasuries, yields on intermediate-dated notes neared two-month highs.
The benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was down 13/32, its yield at 2.719 percent.
The euro fell to a three-week low against the dollar, with investors mindful of strong rhetoric from ECB officials about the currency's recent strength, but the euro later recovered on uncertainty over whether the bank will take action.
The single currency was slightly higher at $1.3754, having dipped to $1.3707 earlier.
The US dollar rose 0.7 percent against the yen, to 102.82 yen, buoyed in part by expectations that the Federal Reserve may start to tighten policy in the early part of next year.
Brent oil settled flat on the day and up 1 percent on the week, at $108.07 a barrel. US crude finished at $101.67 a barrel, up 0.4 percent for the session and 2.2 percent higher on the week.
The spot price of gold was up 0.1 percent on the day at $1,292.96 an ounce. For the week, though, it was down 3 percent.