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World stocks hope for Fed pause, dollar stalls

  • Global stocks gain, S&P 500 closes flat, Nasdaq falls
  • Dollar slips, gold climbs above $2,000 level
  • Bitcoin above $30,000 for first time since June
  • Oil gains despite weak China demand data
  • Graphic: World FX rates

NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) – A gauge of global stocks rose and bond yields edged higher on Tuesday as traders anticipate interest rates will soon peak even as the market bets that the U.S. Federal Reserve will tighten monetary policy further in May to tame inflation.

Gold climbed back up above the key $2,000 per ounce level as the dollar came off Monday’s peak, while oil prices rose despite Chinese inflation data pointing to persistently weak demand.

Investors are eagerly awaiting U.S. consumer prices data on Wednesday and producer prices on Thursday. The consumer price index is expected to show core inflation rose 0.4% on a monthly basis (USCPF=ECI) and 5.6% year-over-year (USCPFY=ECI) in March, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

Core CPI appears likely to trough at 5.0% in September before moving higher, should the current path persist, as prices for services rise further, Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. equity strategist at Credit Suisse, said in a note.

Reuters Graphics

The two-year Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, rose 2.7 basis points to 4.035% – double the Fed’s inflation target of 2%.

A consensus in the bond market was that the Fed would eventually lower rates, but speculation the banking crisis sparked in March with collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the takeover of Credit Suisse has stabilized, said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.

“There’s been more of a belief now that perhaps the Fed will pause for an extended period of time. They’re in no hurry in lower rates,” he said.

Futures show a 71.8% likelihood that the Fed will raise rates by 25 basis points to a range of 5.0%-5.25% when policymakers conclude a two-day meeting on May 3, CME Group’s FedWatch tool shows.

But markets are pricing the Fed to cut its target rate to 4.394% by December as the economy slows and potentially enters a recession. The outlook for December last week had rates falling below 4.0% at one point.

“The Fed could surprise us and pause” in May, Ghriskey said. “But they’re very unlikely to roll over at this point. They are determined to crush inflation.”

Reuters Graphics

The Fed should be cautious about raising rates in the face of recent banking stress, Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee said on Tuesday, noting that a pullback in bank lending would help quell inflation and leave less for monetary policy to do.

The U.S. central bank’s policy path will depend on incoming data, New York Fed President John Williams said, adding that he had yet to see much sign of credit conditions tightening and it would take time to see how that played out.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose 1.3 basis points to 3.428%, while the 10-year German bund’s yield rose 0.2 basis points to 2.305%, pulling back from an earlier high of 2.317%.

Equity markets in Europe rallied after a long four-day Easter holiday, while the S&P 500 retreated minutes before the close to end flat and the Nasdaq slid. Large U.S. banks on Friday kick off earnings season that is expected overall to show a decline in profits, though banks are considered undervalued after a sell-off in March.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe (.MIWD00000PUS) gained 0.43%. The pan-European STOXX 600 index (.STOXX) closed up 0.62% and Japan’s blue-chip Nikkei added 1.05% (.N225).

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 0.29% and the S&P 500 (.SPX) closed essentially flat, down 0.001%. The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 0.43% after trying to turn positive most of the session.

Bolstering the case for global inflation to ease further this year, data showed China’s consumer inflation hit an 18-month low and factory-gate price declines sped up in March as demand remained weak.

Meanwhile, investor morale in the euro zone improved in April after a surprise dip in March, a survey showed.

South Korea’s central bank held rates steady for a second consecutive meeting on Tuesday, while the Bank of Canada is expected to leave rates unchanged when it meets on Wednesday.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday trimmed its 2023 global growth outlook slightly as higher interest rates cool activity but warned a severe flare-up of financial system turmoil could slash output to near recessionary levels.

Investor sentiment has also been boosted by signs that turmoil in the banking sector is easing after the two largest bank failures since the financial crisis rocked the banking system and rattled depositors, Fed data last week showed.

The dollar fell after a strong U.S. jobs report for March showed a resilient labor market, adding to expectations of another Fed rate hike. The data on Friday showed employers added 236,000 jobs while the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%.

The dollar index fell 0.322%, with the euro up 0.49% to $1.0912 and the yen weakening 0.07% at 133.69 per dollar.

Bitcoin touched a fresh 10-month high at $30,438 before pulling back to $30,074.00. The digital token had been stuck between about $26,500 and $29,400 the previous three weeks.

Elsewhere, U.S. crude rose $1.79 to settle at $81.53 a barrel, while Brent settled up $1.43 at $85.61.

U.S. gold futures settled 0.8% higher at $2,019.00 an ounce.

Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; additional reporting by Selena Li in Hong Kong and Junko Fujita in Tokyo; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Alexander Smith and Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.