Stocks drop on weak earnings, U.S. durables; dollar slips
World stock indexes fell on Tuesday following disappointing company earnings, while the dollar retreated after an unexpected decline in U.S. durable goods orders.
All three major U.S. stock indexes ended more than 1 percent lower, with shares of Microsoft (MSFT.O), down 9.3 percent, and Caterpillar (CAT.N), down 7.2 percent, leading the way down.
Their results were among the latest disappointments in the current U.S. earnings period, which has raised worries about the profit picture given the recent slump in oil prices, weaker global demand and the stronger dollar.
Weak results at companies such as Siemens (SIEGn.DE) and Philips (PHG.AS) weighed on European stocks.
"People may not be aware of ... what the ripple effects of oil's weakness will be. There are a lot of companies that are going to be adversely impacted," said Jim O'Donnell, chief investment officer at investment advisors Forward in San Francisco.
The decline in durable goods orders also pressured U.S. stocks. The dollar retreated following the data and on speculation the Federal Reserve might hold off on raising interest rates for longer than expected. The U.S. central bank is due to release a policy statement on Wednesday.
U.S. Commerce Department data showed non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, unexpectedly fell last month. A separate report, however, showed U.S. consumer confidence rose to its highest since 2007 in January.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI ended down 291.49 points, or 1.65 percent, to 17,387.21, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 27.54 points, or 1.34 percent, to 2,029.55 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC fell 90.27 points, or 1.89 percent, to 4,681.50.
A snowstorm in the U.S. Northeast kept many investment banks and fund managers on skeleton staff, though the main exchanges were open.
MSCI's global share index .MIWD00000PUS fell 0.4 percent while an index of European shares .FTEU3 closed down 0.8 percent.
The euro EUR=EBS rose 1.24 percent to $1.13760, off a session high $1.14230 on the EBS trading platform. That pulls it further away from Monday's 11-year low of $1.1098 after voters in Greece elected an anti-bailout government.
Investors have bid the dollar up, anticipating that the Fed will start to raise rates around mid-year as the U.S. economy recovers growth momentum at the same time as major central banks in Europe and Japan are loosening policies to spur activity.
Russia was also in the spotlight after a cut to its credit rating dealt a further blow to the rouble, though by Tuesday the currency had regained some ground against the dollar RUB=EBS.
The cost of insuring exposure to Russia's debt rose after Standard & Poor's cut Russia's sovereign credit rating to 'junk' late on Monday, citing weakened economic growth prospects and Western sanctions over Ukraine.
U.S. Treasury debt prices ended mixed after 30-year yields touched record lows amid data-driven worries about sputtering world growth. Thirty-year bonds US30YT=RR were last off 2/32 in price to yield 2.40 percent. Earlier the yield hit a record low of 2.328 percent after the durable goods data.
In commodity markets, oil rose as a weaker dollar propped up commodities priced in the currency. U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 settled at $46.23 a barrel, up $1.08, while Brent LCOc1 settled at $49.60, up $1.44.