Wall Street rises as Fed, PMI give boost; global share mkts also up


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WASHINGTON/LONDON — Wall Street and global equity markets were broadly higher on Wednesday after reassurances from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that the Fed is not rushing to hike interest rates, while European stocks remained under pressure.

The market is still feeling the aftereffects of the Fed’s surprise projection last week for rate hikes as soon as 2023, which knocked stocks, boosted the dollar and led to the flattening of the U.S. bond yield curve.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq hit a record on Wednesday after Powell sought to reassure investors during the previous session, saying the central bank will watch a broad set of job market data to assess the economic recovery from COVID-19, rather than rush to raise rates on the basis of fear of inflation.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.06 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.11 percent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.14 percent by 10:58 a.m. EDT (1458 GMT).

Powell backing away from last week’s more hawkish sentiments “made people feel good about the market,” said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The gains are being led not by recovery stocks, but by giant tech companies.”

Flash U.S. manufacturing PMI climbed to a record high in June, supporting Wall Street shares. But manufacturers are still struggling to secure raw materials and qualified workers, substantially raising prices for both businesses and consumers.

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Sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell to a one-year low in May, likely hindered by expensive raw materials such as lumber, which are boosting the prices of newly built homes.

Powell’s comments helped the yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries go lower and put the brakes on a rising U.S. dollar.

The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield was at 1.4750%. The U.S. dollar slipped and the euro was up 0.07 percent.

The MSCI world equity index rose 0.23 percent, continuing to climb from the one-month low it hit in the aftermath of the Fed’s meeting.

The STOXX 600 was 0.44% lower on the day but was up around 1.3% from the lows it hit on Monday.

“The market’s still digesting the Fed news,” said Mo Kazmi, portfolio manager and macro strategist at UBP.

“I think a lot of that move was exacerbated by stretched positioning and now what we’re seeing is perhaps reflation trades being put back on and the market normalizing to some extent, realizing that for now it’s just a subtle shift from the Fed.”

EUROPEAN GROWTH

Early PMI data showed that euro zone business growth accelerated at its fastest pace in 15 years in June as the easing of more lockdown measures and the unleashing of pent-up demand drove a boom in the bloc’s dominant services industry.

Germany’s private sector growth was also lifted to its highest level in more than a decade in June, the PMI survey showed. In France, business activity edged higher, but not as much as expected.

In Britain, growth in the private sector cooled slightly from the all-time high hit in May, but inflation pressures faced by firms hit record levels. The Bank of England meets on Thursday.

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Berenberg economists Holger Schmieding and Kallum Pickering wrote in a note to clients that the euro zone economy is likely to recover to its pre-pandemic level of GDP in Q4 2021, while for Britain it will be Q1 2022.

UBP’s Kazmi said that he is positioned for higher yields in Europe, as it overtakes the United States in terms of vaccinations, lockdown easing and economic recovery from COVID-19.

“It will be interesting to see if the German Bund can follow the U.S. rate move with yields moving higher in Europe – it is something that we think could happen,” he said.

“The fact that the Fed has moved more hawkishly will allow the ECB to be more comfortable perhaps in moving more hawkish, or less dovish, over time.”

Germany’s benchmark Bund yield was steady at -0.177% .

Oil prices jumped to their highest in more than two years after an industry report on U.S. crude inventories reinforced views of a tightening market as travel picks up in Europe and North America.

“The dollar is part of it, and also we’re all starting to drive more,” Tuz said. A weaker greenback tends to give dollar-traded commodities a boost, making them less expensive to holders of other currencies.

Spot gold prices rose 0.66 percent to $1,790.33 an ounce.

Bitcoin was up around 4.6% on the day, above the $34,000 mark. The cryptocurrency dropped to as low as $28,600 on Tuesday – its lowest since January. Ether was trading around $1,997.

(Reporting by Chris Prentice and Elizabeth Howcroft; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Angus MacSwan and Jonathan Oatis)

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In-depth reporting on the innovation economy from The Logic, brought to you in partnership with the Financial Post.

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