A sense of caution in financial markets continued Tuesday after deadly bombings at the finish line in the Boston Marathon.
Investors have been spooked over recent trading sessions by the declines recorded in commodity prices -- not just gold -- as well as a run of disappointing economic data from the United States and China, the world's two-largest economies.
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Monday's explosions in Boston, which killed three people, provided investors a stark reminder of the threats posed by terrorists to a fragile global economic recovery.
"The Boston bombings have only added to the sense of unease among investors . . . equity markets have slipped in the past few days on worries that the U.S. and Chinese economies have hit an air pocket of economic activity," said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.5 percent at 6,312 while Germany's DAX fell 0.4 percent to 7,213. The CAC-40 in France was 0.5 percent lower at 3,710.
Wall Street was poised to recoup some of Monday's heavy losses with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.6 percent. How they actually open could hinge on a raft of U.S. corporate earnings and economic data that are due before the bell. Inflation and industrial production figures are likely to garner the most attention.
A key point of interest in financial markets over the past few days has been the gold price, which has fallen dramatically amid a welter of concerns, including fears that European governments may sell the precious metal as part of their debt-fighting measures.
By midmorning London time, it was trading 1.4 percent higher at $1,380 a barrel. That's only a minor bounce back from Monday, when gold logged its biggest one-day decline in more than 30 years, tumbling $140.30, or 9 percent, to $1,361, just above its earlier low of $1,357.10.
"At some point gold could well be subjected to participants looking to own gold at cheaper levels than over the last few months," said David White, a trader at Spreadex. "But, critically, calling the bottom on any such process is hazardous at best."
The gold price isn't the only commodity that's taken a battering over recent days. Industrial metals have also faltered amid concerns over the global economic recovery, as has the price of oil. The benchmark New York crude rate was down again Tuesday, trading 57 cents lower at $88.14 a barrel.
Currency markets also remained volatile, particularly the yen, which had recovered some lost ground on Monday amid rising global growth concerns.
Over the previous week or so, the yen had taken a battering, to the potential benefit of Japan's exporting powerhouses, after the Bank of Japan instituted an aggressive new monetary policy to get the country's moribund economy going again.
The dollar was 0.9 percent higher at 97.80 yen on Tuesday. The euro was up 0.2 percent against the dollar, at $1.3076.
Earlier in Asia, stocks were mixed after being hit Monday by lower than anticipated Chinese economic growth figures. While Japan's Nikkei fell 0.4 percent to close at 13,221.44 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.5 percent to 21,672.03, benchmarks in South Korea and mainland China rose.