Stocks fell as Cyprus’s parliament rejected an unprecedented levy on bank deposits, dealing a blow to European plans to force savers to shoulder part of the country’s bailout in a standoff that risks renewed tumult in the euro area.
In the US a Commerce Department report showed builders broke ground on 917,000 homes at an annual rate, up 0.8% from a revised 910,000 pace in January that was higher than initially estimated.
Building permits, a proxy for future construction, advanced 4.6% to 946,000, the strongest since June 2008. The Federal Open Market Committee began a two-day meeting today.
The policy makers agreed in December to link record-low interest rates to thresholds for unemployment and inflation so that investors and households know what conditions will prompt the Federal Reserve to consider raising rates.
Gold climbed to the highest in three weeks as concern that Europe’s debt crisis may intensify boosted the appeal of the precious metal as a haven. Palladium slumped the most in more than four months. Oil was unchanged after the American Petroleum Institute reported U.S. inventories dropped 413,000 barrels last week to 376.7 million.
The euro fell to a three-month low against the dollar as Cyprus’s parliament voted down an unprecedented bank-deposit levy, fuelling speculation the nation’s bailout will falter.
Canada’s dollar weakened for a second consecutive session against its U.S. peer after Canadian factory sales fell in January, an unexpected drop that underscores the two nations’ diverging economic prospects.
Today’s session will bring us the latest Melbourne Institute leading index reading, at 10:30am, AEDT.