Treasuries, Gold Fall, Stocks Flat on BernankeBy Michael P. Regan and Susanne Walker
Feb. 29, 2012
Treasuries and gold slid while the dollar rose and U.S. equities were little changed after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s remarks to Congress damped speculation of more quantitative easing to help the economy.
The 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield increased four basis points to 1.98 percent, reversing an early drop, and the Dollar Index rose 0.5 percent after falling 0.2 percent earlier. Gold futures sank 4.2 percent to $1,712.50 an ounce, its biggest loss of the year, and oil fell for a third day. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was little changed at 1,372.01 at 2:03 p.m. in New York after rising as much as 0.4 percent earlier.
The S&P 500 trimmed its February advance to 4.4 percent, its third straight monthly gain. While Bernanke told Congress that keeping monetary stimulus is warranted, he said rising gasoline prices are likely to push up inflation temporarily and the drop in the unemployment rate has been more rapid than expected. The U.S. economy expanded at a 3 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter, more than forecast, and the Fed’s Beige Book survey said that manufacturing continued to expand at a “steady pace” in January and early February.
“The market is interpreting what Bernanke said as no more QE,” said Paul Horrmann, a broker in New York at Tradition Asiel Securities Inc., an interdealer broker. “That’s why the markets came off.”
Hewlett-Packard Co., Alcoa Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc. lost at least 1.1 percent for the biggest declines in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, while Coca-Cola Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Home Depot Inc. had the biggest gains. The Dow fluctuated around 13,000 after closing above the milestone yesterday for the first time since May 2008.