A fourth day of declines in the price of crude sent commodities prices and emerging-market currencies lower. U.S. stocks fluctuated, while Treasuries advanced as investors awaited a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen for clues on the path of interest rates.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was little changed as crude slipped through $39 a barrel in New York, while a gain in Apple Inc. boosted technology shares. The dollar fluctuated, while Treasuries rose for a second day before the Fed chair’s talk. Government bonds across the euro zone rose as the European Central Bank prepared to increase its debt purchases. Russia’s ruble and Brazil’s real led a gauge tracking 20 developing-nation currencies lower.
“The correction in oil prices is outweighing any optimism about the economy in the markets,” said Pedro Ricardo Santos, a broker at X-Trade Brokers DM SA in Lisbon. “Investors will also expect a little more hawkishness from Yellen’s speech today. Although the likelihood of a rate increase in April is practically zero, many are looking for two more hikes by the end of the year.”
After roiling financial markets as it slid in the first six weeks of the year, crude has since recovered and is on track for its first back-to-back monthly gains since May 2015. Recent advances aren’t fully grounded in improved fundamentals, and commodities including oil and copper are at risk of steep declines as according to Barclays Plc. Financial markets are also hanging on the outlook for U.S. interest rates. April 1 data will show the world’s largest economy added 210,000 jobs this month, after climbing 242,000 in February, according to analyst estimates.