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Stocks eye biggest rally in 4 years on Fed relief

Reuters , Friday 9 Oct 2015
Markets
Passersby are reflected on a stock quotation board at a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, September 29, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)
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World stocks rose on Friday, putting them on course for their biggest weekly rise in four years after minutes of the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting showed the U.S. central bank is in no rush to raise interest rates.

Investors' relief that the Fed probably won't move until some time next year saw them take on more risk across the board, with commodities and emerging market assets also recovering some of their recent heavy losses.

Brent crude oil was on track for its biggest weekly rise since March 2009, while zinc soared 9 percent - its biggest daily gain for seven years - after troubled mining giant Glencore said it would cut production.

In early trading, the MSCI world equity index was up 0.6 percent. That was the eighth rise in a row, and put the index up 4.3 percent on the week, its best performance since late 2011.

The FTSEuroFirst index of the leading 300 European shares was up 0.8 percent on the day and up 5 percent on the week. Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 were also up 0.8 percent in early trading.

"Investors love these Fed minutes because they signal a strong economy and low rates," said Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets in London.

"If the decision was a close call then the message is that the Fed feels good about the U.S., but is just being cautious over emerging markets," he said.

The Fed minutes revealed the extent to which policymakers are concerned that a global economic slowdown might threaten the U.S. economic outlook. Though they said overseas turmoil had not "materially altered" economic prospects, they opted to hold interest rates steady last month.

An unexpectedly weak U.S. jobs report for September last week had led many investors to speculate that the Fed will not deliver its first hike since 2006 until 2016, a feeling that was strengthened by the minutes.

Earlier in Asia MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 1.4 percent, on track for a robust weekly gain of 6.5 percent, its best week in four years. Japan's Nikkei rose 1.6 percent.

U.S. futures pointed to some light profit-taking at the open on Wall Street as the U.S. earnings season gets into full swing, with the S&P 500 expected to come off 0.3 percent from Thursday's seven-week closing high.

PIVOT POINT?

The relief rally and bargain-hunting across commodities and emerging markets got a shot in the arm on Friday, with Brent crude oil futures on course for a rise of more than 11 percent on the week.

Brent was last up 0.8 percent on the day at $53.46 a barrel, and U.S. crude was up 1.2 percent at $50.01 a barrel. Oil also got a boost overnight after forecaster PIRA Energy Group predicted crude prices would rise to $70 per barrel by the end of 2016.

"For now, the cloud of uncertainty has been lifted and traders have pivoted," said Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Avatrade.

Three-month zinc futures were up 9 percent on the London Metal Exchange at $1,818 a tonne after Glencore said it will cut production by 500,000 tonnes, equivalent to 4 percent of the world's output.

Zinc had fallen 30 percent since May to a five-year low, so the rebound could mark the bottom of the market and the commodities complex in general, some analysts said.

Still, there are grounds for caution in commodities, as highlighted by Alcoa's third quarter profit miss announced on Thursday.

In currencies, the dollar retreated on the back of the dovish Fed minutes, with the dollar index down around a third of one percent and the euro up 0.5 percent at $1.1330 .

The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield slipped a couple of basis points to 2.09 percent, as did the 30-year yield to 2.92 percent.

On Thursday HSBC issued one of the boldest U.S. and European yield forecasts of all the big investment banks, predicting the 10-year U.S. yield will fall to 1.5 percent and the equivalent German bund yield at just 0.2 percent next year. 

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