U.S. Stocks Close Lower as Yen Strengthens and China’s Stimulus Boosts Commodities

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By Jacob Maslow

U.S. stocks closed lower on Monday after seeing gains earlier in the day, ending two weeks of advances. The S&P 500 took a negative turn in afternoon trading as the yen strengthened and new stimulus measures from China boosted commodities.

With trading volumes 15% below the 30-day average, the S&P 500 failed to hold onto its gains. The healthcare sector dragged the index down, with Endo International Plc (ENDP) leading the decline. Gas and oil producers tanked despite a rally in crude. The equity benchmark in the U.S. dropped for the third straight month ending in February.

The Ibovespa in Brazil rose 2.9% on news that China cut its RRR (reserve ratio requirement) for banks, boosting copper and oil. The yen secured its largest monthly gain in eight years.

The S&P 500 was down 0.8% at closing, solidifying a 0.4% decline in February. Trading was light on Monday, the final day of the month, as investors stood on the sidelines after the slowest trading week of 2016.

Over in Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 was up 0.7% thanks to a late-trading rally that boosted European equities for the day. Commodity producers soared on news that China boosted is stimulus measures to support a slowing economy.

The Dollar Spot Index was fell 0.1% on Monday, securing a 1.8% loss for February. The index rose 9% last year and 1.6% in January.

The yen saw gains against all 16 of its major peers, with the exception of the South African rand. In February, the yen saw a 7.4% gain, more than double the gains seen with any other major currency.

The yuan was down 0.2%, falling for the seventh straight day as the People’s Bank of China slashed the reserve ratio requirement.

Oil closed at its highest level in nearly seven weeks. West Texas Intermediate was up 3% to $33.75 per barrel. Brent crude jumped 2.5% to $35.97.

Gas futures tumbled 4.8% to $1.71 per million British thermal units on news of record-high stockpiles in the U.S.

Gold saw its largest monthly gain in four years as investors flocked to haven assets.

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