Stocks, Dollar Fall As Tax Debate Heats Up

(Bloomberg) -

U.S. equities slumped, with small caps leading losses, and the dollar erased a gain as concern mounted that the Republican tax overhaul package may struggle to pass the Senate.

All major U.S. equity gauges were lower. The S&P 500 Index dropped in afternoon trading after Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s spokeswoman said he told Senate leaders he’ll oppose tax legislation unless they agree to a larger child tax credit. Republicans can only afford to lose two votes and still guarantee passage.

The Russell 2000 Index, whose domestically focused members stand to benefit most from cuts, lost roughly 1 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index retreated from an earlier advance after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s decision to sweep aside internet neutrality rules.

The dollar tumbled despite data showing U.S. retail sales topped estimates last month. Yields on 10-year Treasuries rose slightly. The retail figures signaled a broad strengthening of consumer demand as the year-end shopping season got under way, bolstering optimism in the world’s largest economy.

The Fed on Wednesday said the labor market was tightening but it still didn’t see inflation accelerating. The euro retreated with the ECB remaining cautious about the prospects of reaching its inflation goals, even as the central bank reiterated its pledge to keep stimulus in place.

The tax debate appeared to overshadow a raft of central bank decisions affirming optimism that economic growth is picking up around the world. Concern is mounting after Rubio’s statement put him in the company of a handful of Republicans who’ve said they’re undecided.

Meanwhile, in comments after Europe’s central bank kept rates steady, ECB President Mario Draghi stopped short of declaring that the lender will meet its inflation goal in 2020, signaling that the euro-area economy isn’t yet strong enough to warrant cutting monetary stimulus.

Elsewhere, the Mexican peso strengthened versus the dollar as the country’s central bank raised its benchmark rate. The pound slipped following the Bank of England’s decision to keep interest rates unchanged. Turkey’s lira fell after its central bank raised a key rate less than investors expected. Gold slid and crude rose, reversing Wednesday’s declines to trade above $57 a barrel.

These are the main moves in markets:

– The S&P 500 finished down 0.4 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite slid 0.3 percent after rising as much as 0.4 percent earlier in the session.

– The Stoxx Europe 600 Index dropped 0.5 percent.

– The MSCI All-Country World Index dipped 0.2 percent for its first decline in a week.

– The U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index fell 0.7 percent, the largest retreat in two weeks.

– The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index gave up earlier gains and was little changed.

– The euro decreased 0.3 percent to $1.1787.

– The British pound rose 0.1 percent to $1.343.

– The Japanese yen added 0.3 percent to 112.26 per dollar.

– The yield on 10-year Treasuries climbed one basis point to 2.3511 percent.

– Britain’s 10-year yield declined four basis points to 1.174 percent, the lowest in three months.

– Germany’s 10-year yield was little changed at 0.316 percent.

– France’s 10-year yield fell one basis point to 0.644 percent.

– West Texas Intermediate crude added 0.9 percent to $57.11 a barrel.

– Gold dropped 0.2 percent to $1,253.24 an ounce.

– Copper rose 0.7 percent to $3.07 a pound.