Equities wobble as US bond rates climb

The US 10-year bond yield hit 3.0 percent, a level seen as important many investors in deciding whether to put their money into bonds or stocks

European and US stock markets wavered Tuesday as the yield on US 10-year government bonds touched the key 3.0 percent level.

That level, which the bonds briefly touched before pulling back, is seen as important for many investors in determining whether to put their money into safer bonds or riskier stocks.

Market analyst Jasper Lawler at London Capital Group put the movement in equities into perspective.

"Will US 10-year Treasuries yielding 3 percent bring about an immediate collapse in equity markets? The answer from today was an unequivocal no.

"The tone across markets was cautious, but nothing akin to the drop in February when Treasury yields rose above 2.9 percent."

After pulling back, European equities recovered somewhat.

Both London and Paris managed to finish with gains.

Meanwhile, Frankfurt ended lower after a survey showed that confidence among business leaders in Europe's biggest economy Germany fell back in April as executives responded to a broader clouding-over of the global economic outlook.

The Ifo institute's closely-watched barometer lost 1.2 points month-on-month, for a reading of 102.1.

On Wall Street, the Dow and S&P 500 were essentially flat approaching midday.

The euro gained ground on the dollar, which had risen for five straight sessions on the prospect of a quick rise in American interest rates that make the currency more valuable to hold.

"The dollar buying has paused, at least for the time being. After rising for five consecutive days, some bullish traders are undoubtedly booking profit ahead of this week’s key fundamental events," said Forex.com analyst Fawad Razaqzada.

Razaqzada suggested expectations of a quick rise in US interest rates may be misplaced.

Concerns over trade could "discourage even the hawkish policymakers from trying to tighten monetary policy" and "if the ECB does come across as being more dovish than hawkish then this could undermine the euro further and underpin" an "overbought" dollar.

For Lukman Otunuga, Research Analyst at FXTM, "the story behind the dollar’s incredible appreciation in recent days continues to revolve around rising US bond yields and easing geopolitical risks."

Otunuga said the main risk for the currency this week will be the release Friday of US first quarter GDP figures, which are expected to show economic growth cooling as consumer spending eases.

In oil markets, both main contracts added to Monday's gains that saw them hit levels not seen since late 2014, with ongoing unrest between crude kingpin Saudi Arabia and Yemen rebels providing support.

- Key figures around 1630 GMT -

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.03 percent at 24,440.39 points

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,425.40 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.2 percent at 12,550.82 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.1 percent at 5,444.16 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,507.02

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.9 percent at 22,278.12 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.3 percent at 30,636.24 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 2.0 percent at 3,128.93 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2219 from $1.2207 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.12 yen from 108.72

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3970 from $1.3941

Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 15 cents at $74.86 per barrel

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP five cents at $68.69