(Updates with U.S. markets, changes dateline from previous
* U.S. crude little changed after gasoline data
* Snap British election boosts sterling
* Focus on Korean peninsula tension, French election
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, April 18 Stock indexes and the U.S.
dollar fell on Tuesday as a snap general election call in
Britain added to a growing list of uncertainties for investors,
including saber-rattling in the Korean Peninsula and an election
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence arrived in Tokyo after
reassuring South Korea of an "iron-clad" alliance with the
United States as the reclusive North, which regularly threatens
to destroy Japan, South Korea and the United States, has
conducted a series of missile and nuclear tests.
In France, opinion polls have for months shown far-right
leader Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron qualifying
next Sunday for the May 7 run-off, in what remains the most
unpredictable presidential election in decades.
Disappointing quarterly results from corporate heavyweights
Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson dragged Wall Street lower.
"The key for the market is still earnings, economic growth
etc, and politics is merely a daily side show," said Paul Nolte,
portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 84.96 points,
or 0.41 percent, to 20,551.96, the S&P 500 lost 5.37
points, or 0.23 percent, to 2,343.64 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 10.19 points, or 0.17 percent, to 5,846.60.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 0.98
percent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe
shed 0.43 percent.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.55 percent. MSCI's broadest
index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
closed 0.91 percent lower, while Japan's Nikkei rose
Sterling strengthened as British Prime Minister Theresa May
called for an early election on June 8, saying she needed to
strengthen her hand in divorce talks with the European Union.
Deutsche Bank said the surprise election call is a
"game-changer" for the currency, and that it will raise its
forecasts for the pound in the coming days.
Risk-aversion favored the safe-haven yen.
“Dollar-yen has been suffering from risk-aversion, which is
reflected in weak stocks and just in general, with a bit of
geopolitical fears,” said Alvise Marino, FX strategist at Credit
Suisse in New York.
The dollar index fell 0.43 percent, with the euro
up 0.48 percent to $1.0691.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.16 percent versus the
greenback at 108.73 per dollar, while Sterling was last
trading at $1.275, up 1.50 percent on the day.
Oil prices were weighed by concerns that U.S. production
growth is undermining efforts to cut oversupply, but U.S. crude
pared losses after gasoline data showed a draw of about 400,000
barrels in the New York Harbor region.
U.S. crude fell 0.02 percent to $52.64 per barrel
and Brent was last at $55.18, down 0.33 percent on the
U.S. Treasury yields fell as nervousness ahead of France’s
first round of Presidential elections this weekend and ongoing
geopolitical tensions increased demand for safe-haven U.S. debt.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 13/32 in price
to yield 2.2054 percent, from 2.252 percent late on Monday.
Gold edged up after touching five-month highs the previous
session, bolstered by the weaker dollar, North Korea tensions
and the French presidential election.
Spot gold added 0.1 percent to $1,284.95 an ounce.
U.S. gold futures fell 0.35 percent to $1,287.40 an
Copper lost 1.24 percent to $5,621.50 a tonne.
(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru,
Karolin Schaps and Nigel Stephenson in London, and Karen
Brettell and Saqib Iqbal Ahmed in New York; Editing by Nick