London: World stocks slipped from last week’s three-month highs on Monday while government bonds rose as a big increase in troubled loans at Bank of America and this week’s key corporate results made investors nervous.
Bank of America’s first-quarter results topped analysts’ forecast but non-performing assets more than tripled to $25.74 billion from a year earlier. Its shares fell more than 7% in pre-market trade.
So far, Q1 corporate results have been better than estimates on both sides of the Atlantic, although a few negative numbers can quickly wipe out optimism in a fickle market.
“While the reporting season has been better than expected, the results are still very poor indeed, ” said Henk Potts, strategist at Barclays Wealth.
“There are still a lot of hurdles to overcome and volatility is still going to be a significant aspect.” MSCI world equity index lost 0.8% on the day, having hit its highest level in three months on Friday.
US stock futures were down 1.6% ahead of results from key companies including IBM.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index fell 2.2%.
According to Thomson Reuters data, S&P 500 companies are so far reporting earnings that are 20.6% above the estimates in the aggregate. This compares with the long-term average of 1.6%.
The improvement in the Q1 data stems from higher-than-expected numbers from financial sector firms such as Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.
“The markets appear to be in limbo. The question we need to ask ourselves is does being ‘less bad´ actually equate to being ‘good´,” said Chris Hossain, senior sales manager at ODL Securities.
“If we are to see a sustained bout of buying, we need to see consistent positive economic newsflow, which simply can’t be guaranteed. Having endured 18 months of pain, it will take more than some okay banking numbers to get the masses to return to the markets.”
Emerging stocks dropped 0.14%.
The dollar rose 0.6% against a basket of major currencies, while the low-yielding yen rose 0.5% to 98.72 per dollar. The euro hit a one-month low of $1.2945.
US crude oil fell more than 5% to $47.70 a barrel, pressured by a firmer dollar.