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Shares rise, US Treasury yields drop as Fed minutes suggest slower rate hikes

Shares rise, US Treasury yields drop as Fed minutes suggest slower rate hikes

Raindrops hang on a sign for Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan in New York City, New York, on Oct 26, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)

NEW YORK: World equities rose while US Treasury yields retreated on Wednesday (Nov 23) after minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting showed US central bankers looking to soon moderate the pace of interest rate hikes.

A "substantial majority" of Fed policymakers agreed it would "likely soon be appropriate" to slow the pace of interest rate hikes, the meeting minutes showed. Traders had expected the Fed minutes would affirm officials' softening stance after recent data showed a moderation in economic conditions.

US Labor Department data on Wednesday showed jobless claims increased more than expected last week. US business activity contracted for a fifth month in November, according to the S&P Global flash U.S. Composite PMI Output Index.

"I didn't really think there were any surprises. They seem to still be pointing out that the risks of inflation are still high and recent data has been more persistent than they thought," said Jordan Kahn, chief investment officer at ACM Funds in Los Angeles.

"People are going to get excited when they see that some participants were mentioning the need to slow the pace of rate hikes. But the market was already pricing in a 50 basis point rate hike for December and the odds in the Fed futures market of a 50-basis point hike was already 70 per cent going into this minutes," Kahn added.

The MSCI All Country stock index was up 0.85 per cent, while European shares rose 0.6 per cent.

US Treasury yields traded lower after the Fed minutes. Benchmark 10-year notes were down to 3.6908 per cent while the yields on two-year notes dropped to 4.4773 per cent.

The yield curve that compares these two bonds was still in negative territory, at -76.30 basis points. When inverted, that part of the curve is seen as an indicator of an upcoming recession.

"The Fed has been hiking rates at 75 basis points and it was just unrealistic for them to continue at that pace," Kahn added.

On Wall Street, all three major indexes closed higher, led by gains in technology, consumer discretionary, communications, healthcare and industrial stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.28 per cent to 34,194.06, the S&P 500 gained 0.59 per cent to 4,027.26 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.99 per cent to 11,285.32.

Oil prices fell more than 3 per cent, continuing a streak of volatile trading as the Group of Seven (G7) nations considered a price cap on Russian oil above the current market level and as gasoline inventories in the United States built by more than analysts' expected. Brent futures for January delivery fell 3.3 per cent to settle at US$85.41 a barrel, while US crude fell 4.36 per cent to US$77.42 per barrel.

The US dollar fell across the board after the Fed minutes. The dollar index fell 0.915 per cent, with the euro up 0.9 per cent to US$1.0395.

Gold prices climbed as the US dollar fell. Spot gold added 0.5 per cent to US$1,749.40 an ounce, while US gold futures gained 0.66 per cent to US$1,749.70 an ounce.

Source: Reuters/ec
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