Global stocks hit two-year lows on commodity outlook; biotechs fall

Tue Sep 29, 2015 4:22pm EDT
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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equity markets reached a two-year low on Tuesday as the outlook for raw materials prices and emerging markets remained soft, while U.S. biotech shares remained under pressure.

Commodity prices edged up but held near multi-year lows on concern over an economic slowdown in major raw material consumer China. U.S. stocks closed slightly higher in a choppy session, and an early rally in biotechs faded to deal the sector its eighth straight drop.

The S&P 500 managed to barely snap a five-session losing streak, but remained close to August lows that analysts see as a key support level.

"I don’t like the way this market looks at all right now. The S&P is getting ready to test the August low," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin.

"A retest is a good thing, but it needs to hold."

Since the Federal Reserve held U.S. interest rates in check on Sept. 17, markets have been kept off balance on the timing of a rate hike.

Fed officials gave mixed messages on Monday and investors were looking to a speech from Fed Chair Janet Yellen on Wednesday for more clarity, with a key U.S. payrolls report also due on Friday.

Mining and trading company Glencore (GLEN.L: Quote), whose shares fell by almost a third on Monday on investor concern over its debt levels, bounced up 16.9 percent in London but only after its Hong Kong-listed shares (0805.HK: Quote) fell 29 percent.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange September 23, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid