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Stocks fall, US yields flat after Fed officials focus on taper timeline

NEW YORK :Global equity markets slipped on Thursday, while U.S. Treasury yields dipped after reaching two-week highs after two hawkish Federal Reserve officials called for the U.S. central bank to start ending its bond-buying program

Ahead of a speech by Fed Chair Jerome Powell, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said he still believes the Fed in September would announce a plan for tapering to start in October or shortly thereafter. Earlier, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the Fed is "coalescing" around a plan to begin reducing its US$120 billion in monthly bond purchases.

Powell is due to speak on Friday at the Federal Reserve's annual Jackson Hole, Wyoming, policy symposium, held virtually due to the regional spread of the pandemic.

Minutes from the Fed's July meeting released last week showed most policy makers expect the Fed to start tapering bond purchases this year, though consumer sentiment and economic data have weakened since that meeting.

Following Kaplan and Bullard's comments, benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields reached their highest level since Aug. 12 before retreating to 1.3491per centper cent after U.S. markets closed.

"You're going to see continued commentary around deciding when to start tapering. I think they want to have that digested by the market so it's not a surprise when it begins later this year," said Ryan Jacob, chief investment officer at Jacob Asset Management.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 50 countries, was down 0.52per cent, while the pan-European STOXX 600 index fell 0.32per cent.

Overnight in Asia, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.65per cent.

On Wall Street, all three major indexes closed lower, with stocks in consumer discretionary, technology, financials and consumer staples among the biggest losers.

"The market has been up five days in a row and so some of it is just people taking some chips of the table in the event there's any surprises out of Jackson Hole," said Jordan Kahn, chief investment officer of ACM Funds in Los Angeles.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.54per cent to 35,213.12, the S&P 500 lost 0.58per cent to 4,469.92 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.64per cent to 14,945.81.

The U.S. dollar jumped from one-week lows after Kaplan and Bullard's comments on bond tapering, pushing the greenback toward a key resistance level.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major trading currencies, was up 0.259per cent.

Gold prices stabilized after a sharp retreat on Thursday, taking a firmer dollar in stride as investors looked forward to Powell's speech.

Spot gold rose 0.03per cent to US$1,791.1547 per ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 0.15per cent to US$1,792.20.

Oil settled lower, snapping a three-day rally on renewed concerns over demand due to rising COVID-19 infections and as Mexico restored some output after an oil rig fire.

Brent crude settled down 1.6per cent at US$71.07 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate oil settled down 1.4per cent at 67.42 a barrel.

(Reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Source: Reuters

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