Stock markets rise as traders consider US rate outlook

AFP , Thursday 18 Apr 2024

Major stock markets in Asia and Europe mostly rose Thursday with traders mulling the outlook for US interest rates as Federal Reserve officials questioned the need for a cut anytime soon.

New York Stock Exchange
People pass the New York Stock Exchange, right, on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 in New York. Global shares are trading mixed after most U.S. stocks slipped on firmer expectations that the Fed is committed to its current rate practices. AP


Oil prices extended the previous day's losses, fuelled by data indicating softer demand in the United States and fading fears of a regional war in the Middle East.

Investors looked past a sell-off on Wall Street Wednesday when worries hit tech firms that borrowing costs would be kept elevated longer than expected.

Comments from Fed officials reinforced the view that sticky inflation and a resilient US economy will keep the bank from easing monetary policy anytime soon.

A rally across global markets, which saw some hit record highs this month, has given way to concerns that valuations may be overdone, and analysts said the current earnings season is key to maintaining momentum.

Expectations for US rate cuts in 2024 have fallen from six predicted at the start of the year to just two, while some analysts have even warned of a possible hike.

"The US central bank remains on track to cut rates twice this year, most likely starting at its September meeting," said Solita Marcelli at UBS Group AG.

Oil dropped further after losing more than three per cent Wednesday on figures showing a forecast-busting build-up in US stockpiles that raised questions about demand in the world's top economy.

Relief that Israel had held off any retaliation for the weekend's missile attack by Iran -- soothing fears of a conflict between the Middle East foes -- also weighed on oil prices.

Foreign exchange markets are also being closely followed after the dollar pushed uncomfortably higher against its peers.

Particularly in focus are the yen and won after US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen joined her Japanese and South Korean counterparts in saying they were keeping an eye on movements.

The statement came after South Korea's Choi Sang-mok and Japan's Shunichi Suzuki shared "serious concerns" about the recent weakness of their currencies and agreed to take "appropriate actions" to counter extreme volatility.

Analysts said the statement with Yellen suggested Washington would not push back against intervention by the countries.

The yen has lost almost nine per cent this year and won about seven per cent.


Key figures around 1145 GMT

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 per cent at 7,864.67 points

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.4 per cent at 8,015.39

Frankfurt - DAX: FLAT at 17,777.20

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 percent at 4,932.66

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 per cent at 38,079.70 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.8 per cent at 16,385.87 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 per cent at 3,074.22 (close)

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.1 per cent at 37,753.31 (close)

Dollar/yen: UP at 154.41 yen from 154.36 yen on Wednesday

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0677 from $1.0676

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2481 from $1.2455

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.56 pence from 85.69 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.1 per cent at $81.80 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: DOWN 1.2 per cent at $86.26 per barrel

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