Stocks open slightly lower, gold hovers near record high

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are opening slightly lower on Wall Street and the price of gold is hovering near the record high it closed at a day earlier. Investors are keeping a close eye on negotiations in Congress over more measures to provide economic relief from the coronavirus pandemic. A supplemental $600 weekly unemployment benefit expires this week, and Republicans are seeking to cut it back. Extending protections against evictions and other relief are also on the table. The S&P 500 fell 0.2%, led by declines in big technology companies like Apple and Microsoft. European markets were mixed and Asian stocks ended mostly higher.

World shares turned lower on Tuesday and the price of gold retreated from a record high as investors kept an eye on economic stimulus measures and corporate earnings.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is holding a two-day policy meeting starting Tuesday and Congress is considering providing more help for the American economy.

European markets lost early gains to trade lower, with Germany’s DAX shedding 0.6% to 12,765 and the CAC 40 in Paris falling 0.8% to 4,898. Britain’s FTSE 100 fell 0.2% to 6,094. Wall Street looked set for a weak start, with the future for the Dow industrials down 0.5% and the future for the S&P 500 down 0.4%.

Investors are waiting to hear what the U.S. central bank says this week about the economy’s prospects and what it plans to do on interest rates, analysts said. Congress, meanwhile, isn’t anywhere close to agreeing on the outlines of a package even as a $600-a-week federal payment to the unemployed has expired.

And the closure of the U.S. Consulate in western China’s Chengdu, following the shutdown of China’s consulate in Houston, Texas, has highlighted antagonisms between Washington and Beijing that are adding to jitters at a time when the coronavirus pandemic appears to be regaining its grip in parts of Asia, including Hong Kong, Japan and Vietnam.

The price of gold jumped to a fresh intraday high of $1,974.70 an ounce on Tuesday before retreating slightly. Soon before the start of U.S. trading, it was at $1,926.10 down $4.90. Gold usually tends to rise when worries about the economy are high.

Share prices ended mixed in Asia, with Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index down 0.3% at 22,657.38. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.6% to 24,760.90. The Shanghai Composite index rose 0.7% to 3,227.96 and the S&P ASX/200 in Sydney lost 0.4% to 6,020.50. South Korea’s Kospi picked up 1.8% to 2,256.99.

So far, company profit reports have been better than analyst forecasts, though still far weaker than a year earlier because of the recession.

More than a third of the companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to report how they fared from April through June, including some of the most influential companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Those four account for 16% of the S&P 500’s total value, which gives their movements significant influence on the index.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note ticked up to 0.61% from 0.60% late Monday.

Benchmark U.S. crude gave up 16 cents to $41.44 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 31 cents to settle at $41.60 per barrel on Monday. Brent crude, the international standard, shed 1 cent to $43.89 per barrel.

In currency dealings, the dollar strengthened to 105.32 Japanese yen from 105.40 yen late Monday. The euro slipped to $1.1712 from $1.1752.