Global shares tick up with Fed boost; oil hits four-month peak

Oil prices surged after a large draw in US inventories surprised markets and sterling tumbled after Britain requested a shorter-than-expected delay for Brexit. — Reuters pic
Oil prices surged after a large draw in US inventories surprised markets and sterling tumbled after Britain requested a shorter-than-expected delay for Brexit. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, March 21 — Stocks across the world fought to extend their longest winning streak of the year yesterday, with a global index edging up as a boost from a dovish Federal Reserve more than offset concerns over US-China trade talks.

In a major shift in its perspective, the Fed expects no rate hikes this year and only one in 2020, no longer anticipating the need to guard against with restrictive monetary policy. The central bank also said it would stop reducing the size of its balance sheet by the end of September, sooner than expected.

But oil prices surged after a large draw in US inventories surprised markets and sterling tumbled after Britain requested a shorter-than-expected delay for Brexit. Despite the pound’s drop, the dollar index hit its lowest level since Feb 4.

Shares of chemicals group Bayer AG fell 9.6 per cent in Frankfurt, their third-largest daily drop in a decade, after a second US jury ruled its Roundup weed-killer caused cancer. In New York, FedEx fell 3.9 per cent after it cut its 2019 profit forecast for the second time in three months.



The MSCI gauge of global stocks was up for an eighth straight session.

The Fed “came across as more dovish than what was expected. Wrapping up the balance sheet run-off by the end of September rather than the end of December was the biggest surprise,” said Brian Jacobsen, senior investment strategist at Wells Fargo Asset Management.

Reports of renewed tension in US-China trade talks weighed overnight on Asian stocks even before comments from US President Donald Trump that his administration is talking about leaving tariffs on China for a long period of time.

China-US trade talks are set to resume next week — the first since Trump delayed a March 1 deadline to raise tariffs on imports.

On the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 13.51 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 25,873.87, the S&P 500 gained 4.34 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 2,836.91 and the Nasdaq Composite added 34.70 points, or 0.45 per cent, to 7,758.64.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.90 per cent and emerging market stocks rose 0.18 per cent, supported by the weaker dollar.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia- shares outside Japan closed 0.02 per cent lower.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.16 per cent.



In currency markets, sterling fell as much as 0.93 per cent against the US dollar after British Prime Minister Theresa May asked the EU to delay Brexit until June 30 — a shorter extension than some in the market had been expecting — and warned a no-deal Brexit was still possible.

The pound was last trading at US$1.324 )RM5.37), down 0.20 per cent on the day.

But that was not enough to lift the dollar index after the dovish Fed statement. The dollar index fell 0.56 per cent.

“The Fed exceeded markets’ dovish expectations which took a toll on the greenback. The Fed did a big about-face on policy. The fact that the Fed threw in the towel on a 2019 rate hike was particularly dovish,” said Joe Manibo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington.

The euro was up 0.75 per cent to US$1.1434, while the Japanese yen strengthened 0.56 per cent versus the greenback at 110.78 per dollar.

US crude prices rose to a four-month high after US government data showed tightening oil and product supplies, but gains were capped by concerns over growth amid the ongoing US-China trade dispute.

US crude rose 1.85 per cent to US$59.83 per barrel and was last at US$68.44, up 1.23 per cent on the day.

Treasury yields fell after the Fed’s statement.



“There’s one hike projected for 2020 but there’s a long time between now and then and so the market is effectively taking the view that the Fed is done tightening,” said Evan Brown, head of macro asset allocation strategy at Asset Management in New York.

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 20/32 in price to yield 2.5423 per cent, from 2.612 per cent late on Tuesday.

The 30-year last rose 29/32 in price to yield 2.9801 per cent, from 3.026 per cent late on Tuesday.

Spot added 0.5 per cent to US$1,312.46 an ounce. Copper rose 0.50 per cent to US$6,491.50 a tonne. Palladium hit a record high of US$1,608.005 per ounce on concern over tight supplies. — Reuters

Source: The Malay Mail Online





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