Global shares fall on weak results; dollar ends worst month in four years
Stock markets worldwide posted a second straight session of losses on Thursday after more weak earnings reports, with all three major U.S. indexes plunging more than 1 percent.
The dollar fell on Thursday, to close out April as the greenback's worst month in four years, as measured against a basket of six major currencies.
The latest batch of lackluster corporate results weighed on shares on Wall Street on Thursday. Celgene led a fall in U.S. biotech stocks, while shares of Harman International Industries fell 7 percent after the maker of audio systems cut its 2015 profit forecast.
Apple was the biggest drag on the Dow, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq indexes. The Wall Street Journal reported that supplies of the company's Apple Watch were limited at the product's rollout after a key component was found to be defective.
Technology stocks in Europe fell after Nokia reported a quarterly profit that was well below market forecasts, sending its stock tumbling. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares posted its biggest weekly drop and its first monthly decline of the year.
"People were expecting a slight miss in earnings as a result of the big move in the dollar, but not as dramatic as we saw today," Robert Francello, head trader at Apex Capital in San Francisco, said of U.S. corporate results.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, sank to a nine-week low of 94.399.
The dollar index pared losses and the greenback rose against the yen, however, after data showed U.S. jobless claims fell to a 15-year low last week and consumer spending rose in March.
For the month of April, the dollar index fell about 3.7 percent.
The euro hit a nine-week high against the dollar of $1.12490 on Thursday. The greenback has weakened of late, on reduced expectations for Federal Reserve interest-rate increases and a recent run of weak economic figures.
The weaker dollar helped U.S. crude oil prices hit fresh 2015 highs by making oil less expensive for holders of other currencies. Oil posted its best monthly gain in six years.
U.S. crude settled up $1.05 at $59.63 a barrel after hitting a high of $59.78. Brent crude settled up 94 cents at $66.78 a barrel.
MSCI's all-country world equity index was last down 4.35 points or 0.99 percent, at 436.3. The index rose about 2.8 percent in April.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 195.01 points, or 1.08 percent, at 17,840.52. The S&P 500 closed down 21.34 points, or 1.01 percent, at 2,085.51. The Nasdaq Composite closed down 82.22 points, or 1.64 percent, at 4,941.42.
The three major U.S. share indexes posted modest gains in April.
Europe's FTSEurofirst 300 index closed down 0.42 percent at 1,575.28.
Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields were mostly flat at 2.03 percent after month-end portfolio buying erased earlier price losses, which had driven the yields to a nearly seven-week high of 2.11 percent.