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Stocks edge up, 10-year Treasury yield falls as rate cut timing weighed

Published Dec 05, 2023 09:27PM ET Updated Dec 06, 2023 02:42PM ET
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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of global equities rose on Wednesday following consecutive declines to start the week, while longer-dated U.S. Treasury yields fell after economic data kept afloat expectations the Federal Reserve has leeway to cut rates next year.

U.S. private payrolls rose by 103,000 jobs last month, the ADP National Employment Report showed on Wednesday, below the 130,000 estimate of economists polled by Reuters. Data for October was revised lower to show 106,000 jobs added instead of 113,000 as previously reported.

Other data showed U.S. worker productivity grew faster than initially thought in the third quarter, putting more downward pressure on labor costs, which could contribute to lower inflation should the trend remain intact.

"Today is a continuation of the macro trend that the market believes the Fed is done hiking," said Joshua Chastant, senior investment analyst at GuideStone Funds, who also noted the market may be too aggressive in pricing in rate cuts.

"We're not going to fight the Fed when they're saying that they're going to hold rates higher unless something materially changes. We are seeing things start to slow down in the economy... but we're not there yet."

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 was little changed, with gains in utilities and industrials offset by a drop in energy stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 66.92 points, or 0.19%, to 36,191.48, the S&P 500 gained 1.24 points, or 0.03 %, to 4,568.42 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 7.76 points, or 0.05 %, to 14,222.15.

Softening economic data and recent comments from Federal Reserve officials, including Chair Jerome Powell, have heightened expectations that the U.S. central bank has ended its interest rate hiking cycle and will begin to cut rates as soon as March.

Expectations for a U.S. rate cut of at least 25 basis points (bps) in March are about 60%, according to CME's FedWatch Tool, up from slightly more than 50% a week ago. The Fed's next policy meeting is on Dec. 12-13.

In addition to the Fed, expectations have risen for rate cuts in other global economies, with markets currently pricing in a 71% chance of cut by the European Central Bank (ECB) in March.

However, the Bank of Canada on Wednesday held its key overnight rate at 5% and left the door open to another hike, saying it was still concerned about inflation while acknowledging an economic slowdown and a general easing of prices.

The ADP report was the latest in a run of data this week on the U.S. labor market, culminating on Friday with the government's payrolls report. However, the ADP is historically not a very reliable predictor of the government's data. On Tuesday, a report on job openings fell to its lowest level since early 2021, while a separate measure of activity showed the U.S. services sector picked up, athough new orders were flat.

The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note on Wednesday fell 6 basis points to 4.112% after hitting a fresh 3-month low of 4.106%, suggesting the bond market is anticipating a weak jobs report on Friday.

The two-year U.S. Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, edged up 1 basis point to 4.591%.

European closed higher as investors largely view the peak in interest rates has been reached, with Germany's benchmark DAX index hitting a fresh record. The pan-European STOXX 600 index gained 0.52% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe advanced 0.17% after two straight days of declines, its first consecutive daily declines in five weeks.

The dollar index was up 0.07% at 104.03 after earlier hitting a two-week high while the euro was down 0.17% to $1.0777.

Brent crude futures tumbled 3.23% to $74.71 a barrel, while U.S. crude was at $69.80, down 3.48% on the day after falling to their lowest level since June, as a larger-than-expected rise in U.S. gasoline inventories exacerbated worries about fuel demand.

Stocks edge up, 10-year Treasury yield falls as rate cut timing weighed
 

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