Euro gains on EU recovery-fund plan, oil wavers

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The euro and European government debt rallied on Tuesday, lifted by a Franco-German proposal to fund grants for regions hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, while oil traded mostly higher on growing demand as countries eased business lockdowns.

A gauge of global equity markets retreated late in the session after Wall Street skidded on a report from medical news website STAT that said Moderna Inc did not provide enough critical data to assess its potential COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna shares closed down 10.4% after surging 20% on Monday when it said a small-early stage trial showed promising results, news that rallied equity markets around the world.

Gold prices rose as some investors sought the safe-haven asset on recession fears after a 30.2% decline in U.S. housing starts in April, the biggest percentage drop on record.

Permits for future construction tumbled, adding to data showing the pandemic will drive the deepest U.S. economic contraction in the second quarter since the Great Depression.

The euro rose 0.05% to $1.0918, paring gains on the Franco-German plan for a 500 billion euro European Union recovery fund was announced on Monday.

“The Franco-German proposal represents a material step forward towards harnessing joint fiscal capacity to provide sustained fiscal stimulus to support the economic recovery,” said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at MUFG.

Spanish and Portuguese government bond yields fell after a big drop in Italian yields on Monday.

Europe’s STOXX 600 index slipped 0.61% after the worldwide surge in equity markets on Monday. But MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.21%.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 390.51 points, or 1.59%, to 24,206.86. The S&P 500 lost 30.97 points, or 1.05%, to 2,922.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 49.72 points, or 0.54%, to 9,185.10.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told U.S. lawmakers that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March was “critical” to the Fed’s ability to expand credit to offset the economic blow from the coronavirus.

U.S. Treasury yields were lower. The benchmark 10-year yield slid 4.9 basis points to 0.6931%.

Crude oil prices traded higher most of the session but Brent eased toward the end.

U.S. crude rose 68 cents to settle at $32.50 a barrel, while Brent fell 16 cents to settle at $34.65 a barrel.

U.S. gold futures settled 0.6% higher at $1,745.60 an ounce.

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