While you were sleeping: Ukraine tension lifts bonds

Stocks fell, while US Treasuries rose, as concern about intensifying tension in Ukraine outweighed further evidence that the American economy is gathering strength.

In late afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.21 percent, the Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 0.11 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 0.18 percent.

Declines in shares of Nike and Visa, down 1.1 percent and 1 percent respectively, led the Dow lower.

US Treasuries advanced, pushing yields on the 30-year bond 2 basis points lower to 3.08 percent, while yields on the 10-year note declined 2 basis points to 2.34 percent.

"The geopolitical concerns are overriding any kind of economic data," Thomas di Galoma, head of fixed-income rates at ED&F Man Capital Markets in New York, told Bloomberg News. "It doesn't look like it's going to stop."

US gross domestic product grew at a 4.2 percent annual rate in the second quarter, up from an initial estimate of 4.0 percent, according to the Commerce Department.

"The economy is in good shape and getting better," Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisers in Holland, Pennsylvania, told Reuters.

Separately, the National Association of Realtors's pending home sales index increased 3.3 percent to 105.9 in July, the highest level since August 2013.

"Interest rates are lower than they were a year ago, price growth continues to moderate and total housing inventory is at its highest level since August 2012," Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said in a statement. "The increase in the number of new and existing homes for sale is creating less competition and is giving prospective buyers more time to review their options before submitting an offer."

"More importantly, steady job additions to the economy are helping family finances and giving them added confidence to enter the market," Yun said.

In other positive data, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell 1,000 to 298,000 in the week ended August 23, according to the Labor Department.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index finished the day with a 0.7 percent decline from previous close, as did France's CAC 40. The UK's FTSE 100 fell 0.4 percent, while Germany's DAX slumped 1.1 percent.

A European Commission report showed that the euro-zone's economic confidence dropped more than expected in July, while a separate report showed that German unemployment unexpectedly climbed in August.

The data underpinned concern about the euro-zone's economy and bolstered expectations that the European Central Bank will add additional stimulus.

"The German economy is not in as good a shape as it was at the beginning of the year," Michael Holstein, an economist at DZ Bank in Frankfurt, told Bloomberg.

(BusinessDesk)

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