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Business

Stocks Gain, Dollar Steady as Fed Stands Pat

Wall Street stocks turned positive after the Fed's decision on interest rates, but remained subdued as they headed towards the close of U.S. trading

Traders work at their desks in front of the German share price index DAX board in Frankfurt, photo: Reuters
By Reuters Whatsapp Twitter Facebook Share
5 months ago

NEW YORK – Stocks moved higher around the globe and the dollar rose along with oil prices on Wednesday as strong data suggested the global economy was picking up steam and the Federal Reserve released an upbeat statement on the health of the U.S. economy.

The Fed left rates unchanged in its first meeting since President Donald Trump took office, but its relatively upbeat outlook suggested it was on track to tighten monetary policy this year.

The dollar reduced its gains after the Fed’s decision but remained 0.2 percent higher, also buoyed by strong readings on U.S. employment and manufacturing data.

U.S. factory activity hit a more than a two-year high in January and a private payrolls report shot past expectations.

“The market didn’t get any new insights from the statement as far as a trigger for a more hawkish Fed, and that is prompting some minor profit-taking on the dollar, but there is nothing in this Fed statement to change the bigger picture, from our perspective, that underlying U.S. growth remains robust and the Fed will hike 2-3 times over the next 12 months,” said Shahab Jalinoos, global head of FX strategy at Credit Suisse.

Wall Street stocks turned positive after the Fed’s decision on interest rates, but remained subdued as they headed towards the close of U.S. trading.

The Nasdaq, which is more technology-heavy, was lifted by a 7-percent rise in Apple after the company’s strong earnings and iPhone sales.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 8.59 points, or 0.04 percent, to 19,872.68, the S&P 500 lost 2.33 points, or 0.10 percent, to 2,276.54 and the Nasdaq Composite added 21.31 points, or 0.38 percent, to 5,636.09.

Both the pan-European FTSE 300 and the STOXX 600 indexes ended up around 0.8 percent.

Euro zone factories registered the fastest activity rate in nearly six years, China’s activity expanded for the sixth month and Japanese manufacturing growth was the fastest in almost three years.

“So far, momentum is pretty strong heading into 2017,” said Jacqui Douglas, Chief European Macro Strategist at TD Securities. “But political risks are definitely one of the biggest this year and, given the surprises we had through 2016, it’s really hard to tell what’s in store.”

The Nikkei added 0.56 percent and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.36 percent.

MSCI’s index of emerging market bourses rose 0.65 percent.

That all combined to put MSCI’s 46-country All World index on pace to snap a four-day losing streak, though the recent protectionist noises from Trump’s team kept markets jittery.

U.S. Treasury prices pared losses after the Fed’s statement with benchmark 10-year Treasury notes down 3/32 in price to yield 2.47 percent, near their lowest yield of the day.

Prices had earlier slumped after payrolls processor ADP showed strong jobs gains in January, raising expectations that Friday’s closely-watched government employment report will also show strong growth.

Friday’s nonfarm payrolls report is expected to show employers added 175,000 jobs last month.

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark, settled up $1.22 a barrel at $56.80, supported by signs that Russia and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are delivering on promised supply reductions. Oil prices had briefly traded lower after a larger-than-expected build in U.S. crude.

Gold slipped by 0.1 percent, retracing earlier losses after the release of the Fed’s statement.

DION RABOUIN

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