European stocks fell the most in a week, snapping the longest streak of gains in three months, as U.S. retail sales and consumer confidence unexpectedly dropped.
In London the UK’s FTSE 100 shed 32 points (-0.5%) to settle at 6384, whilst the German DAX slumped 127 points (-1.6%) to settle at 7745. Stateside, a four-day surge in the stock market came to an end as falling commodity prices brought down energy and mining companies.
The Dow Jones closed largely unchanged, at 14865, whilst the S&P 500 shed five points (-0.3%), to close at 1589. For the week the Dow added 2.1%, whilst the S&P firmed 2.3%. Data also weighed on Friday night, with U.S. retail sales unexpectedly falling March.
The 0.4% decrease, the biggest since June, followed a 1% gain in February, according to Commerce Department figures in Washington. The median forecast of 85 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an unchanged reading in March.
Separate data showed the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary sentiment index for April slipped to 72.3 from 78.6 in March. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had predicted no change for this month’s reading.
Gold tumbled to the lowest price since July 2011, slumping into a bear market, on signs that investors are favouring the US dollar and equities as the global economy recovers. Silver dropped the most since June. Bullion for June delivery plunged 4.1% to settle at $1,501.40 an ounce on the Comex in New York.
The metal is down 21% from a record settlement of $1,891.90 in August 2011, meeting the common definition of a bear market. Crude fell to a one-month low after U.S. retail sales and consumer confidence declined, signaling lower fuel demand.
Oil for May delivery declined $2.22 to $91.29 a barrel on the NYMEX, the lowest settlement since 6 March. Prices fell 1.5% last week and are down 0.6% this year.
Today’s session will bring us data in the form of home loans numbers, at 11:30am, AEST. There is also a host of Chinese data due out today, including GDP and retail sales, which could have a huge impact on the local action.