U.S. asset markets sold off Tuesday as investors interpreted new data from China to mean that country's economy might be slowing down faster than previously thought. Of paramount concern was a government report showing new home prices had recently declined in 45 of 70 major cities, with prices static in 21 other metropolitan areas.
The Chinese economy -- the world's second-largest -- is expected to face slower growth this year than throughout most of the recent decade. But a debate over whether the slowdown will resemble a financial crash, or if it will come as a so-called soft landing, is causing concern among investors.
The news from the Asian giant seemed to overtake the mood of the day, overshadowing positive developments in the U.S. housing market, where data on new housing starts was stronger than expected.
Stocks. Chinese and European equity markets were down, as were U.S. markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.52 percent, closing at 13,170.19. The wider S&P 500 Index decreased to 1,405.52, off by 0.30 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was down some 0.14 percent, to 3,074.15.
Bonds. Treasuries rose as investors fled to the safety of U.S. government notes, but those gains were wiped out and nearly reversed later in the day. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note, which moves opposite to price, fell just one basis point, to 2.372.
Currencies. The risk-averse environment battered the euro, which had taken gains against the dollar in recent sessions. The euro fell to $1.3232 in late trading Tuesday, from $1.3238 Monday. The British pound also fell, to $1.5869 from $1.5899. Those exchange rates are still much more favorable than those seen last week, when a dollar rally drove those currencies down.
Commodities. Gold, industrial metals, energy products, grains and beans all finished lower Tuesday, as the news from China heavily weighed on expectations for future prices. Oil prices were also affected by pledges from Saudi Arabia to increase oil production, falling by more than $1 a barrel in London and nearly $2 in the U.S. market.